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Litigation is flourishing in the North West. Gareth Chadwick gives a round-up of the top cases
Litigation in the North West has picked up during the past few weeks, an indication that the rumoured economic slowdown is actually beginning to bite. Addleshaw Booth & Co head of litigation John Gosling says: "It's particularly noticeable since the beginning of September as people return from their holidays and find their desks full of problems." Addleshaws has just been instructed by the Law Society to investigate an £11m compensation fund fraud and the workload is increasing across the board. IT disputes are active and there is an increase in financial services and construction disputes. At the same time, personal injury practices are continuing to go from strength to strength. And things are looking good at the smaller firms. After the ignominy of losing partner Hugh Baker in July, who was struck off for failing to pursue a claim for a client who had lost their livelihood, Rowe Cohen has bounced back by winning a five-year contract with the Accident Group, creating around 20 paralegal-level jobs at the firm. Halliwell Landau continues to stake its claim as one of the leading litigation practices in the region, with the appointment of four litigation partners in the first quarter of 2001. Three were internal promotions, while the fourth, Gavin Jones, was an equity partner and head of corporate recovery at Matthew Arnold & Baldwin. In May, the litigation team was further strengthened with the appointment of David Rogers, former head of construction at Garretts. Head of litigation Ian Austin says: "July and August are normally slower, but this year they've been manic and there's no sign of it slowing down." The firm is working on a multimillion pound defrauding claim for Time Computers and a case involving Owen Oyston, the flamboyant millionaire. "We've got a really mixed bag of clients," says Austin. Hammond Suddards Edge's head of commercial dispute resolution Mike Shepherd has noted an upsurge in the amount of safety, health and environment work. Shepherd himself counts ICI and BNFL as clients. DLA has offices in Liverpool and Manchester. Head of litigation David Gray says: "The Liverpool litigation scene is dominated by the personal injury firms, the Hill Dickinsons, the Weightmans." But still, the Liverpool litigation team has won large cases such as for local food producer Halewood International in its fight against a consortium of Italian Lambrusco producers, and the Manchester office has had a team working alongside KPMG into allegations of fraud at SSL.