Hot 100: Nusrat Zar, Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) partner Nusrat Zar (scroll down for video interview) was behind the scenes of not one but two of the UK’s biggest stories of 2012.


First, the solicitor-advocate, who specialises in public and administrative law, was picked to help institutional Herbert Smith client BSkyB prepare to face the Leveson Inquiry – the most high profile hearing of its kind in the country’s recent history.

It was Zar’s expertise in handling judicial review cases that made her the ideal candidate to help delve into what became one of the biggest business stories of the year – the judicial review into the West Coast Main Line rail franchise bid. FirstGroup won the bid to run the West Coast Main Line in August, ousting incumbent operator Virgin Trains and provoking a public outcry. HSF partner Adrian Clough had been advising Virgin on its bid and smelled a rat when the company lost out.

When Virgin decided to pursue a judicial review of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) decision and parallel court proceedings alleging breach of procurement procedure, Zar stepped in to prepare Virgin’s case.

HSF missed out on a court battle as one day before the DfT was due to file its defence, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that his department would re-run the tender after discovering serious flaws in the procurement process. The admission by the Government was almost unprecedented and the impact this could have on public procurement procedure is hard to overstate.

A spectacular victory.