We predict a riot of litigation activity

Matt Byrne

Welcome back to the start of the New Year proper and The Lawyer’s first print edition of 2014.

And welcome also to what looks set to be yet another corking 12 months for litigators. You might recall that at the tail end of 2013 The Lawyer’s Global Litigation Top 50 report highlighted the spectacular growth in the world’s litigation and arbitration markets.

As we reported, the total fee income derived from disputes among the world’s 50-largest practices now totals $24.3bn. One of the primary powers behind that growth in revenue worldwide was the swell of financial crisis-related litigation. That trend runs deeply through our feature this week, our now-traditional preview of the top 20 cases scheduled for the coming year in the UK market.

As you’ll discover, a great many of this year’s disputes have their roots in or near the credit crunch. They include the £3bn group litigation claim against RBS and its former management team (notably Fred Goodwin) over the bank’s alleged “defective” April 2008 rights issue, a case that, as one of the first to be brought under section 90 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, has the capability to set new case law.

Elsewhere you’ll find more battles by litigious Russian oligarchs, including a $1.5bn spat stemming from the epic Abramovich v Berezovsky row; a brace of whopping cartel damages claims; and the £300m claim brought by the Tchenguiz brothers against the Serious Fraud Office.

The majority of these cases are heavily international in flavour, providing further confirmation, if it were required, of London’s role at the centre of settling the world’s disputes.

And naturally they highlight the continuing importance of the bar, with several sets (notably Brick Court, which features 23 times, along with Fountain Court and Maitland among many others) making numerous appearances across the top 20.

The Lawyer’s top 20 cases, which looks forward rather than backwards, is the only survey of its kind. Our exhaustive research involves canvassing opinion from litigation heads at top firms across the UK, interviewing senior figures at the bar and tapping other sources close to the litigation market to provide a detailed guide to the coming 12 months in the courts. If disputes is your thing, it’s the place to be.

Meanwhile if you’re a deals lawyer feeling left out then don’t worry; you’ll get your moment in the sun next week when we unveil the Hot 100 2014.