DLA Piper’s Knowles: London is under threat as a litigation centre

DLA Piper global co-chief executive Nigel Knowles claims London’s highly regarded status as a litigation centre is under threat in The Lawyer’s new weekly industry leaders column launched today.

Knowles is one of several legal thought leaders to be joining The Lawyer by contributing a weekly column outlining their thoughts and opinions on the leading topics of the day.

He is joined by Macfarlanes’ senior partner Charles Martin, K&L Gates’ chairman and global managing partner Peter Kalis, former Clifford Chance global managing partner Tony Williams, currently principal at Jomati Consultants, and Mark Brandon – established legal commentator, former recruiter and managing director of Motive Legal Consulting.

Writing in The Lawyer today, Knowles argues that proposals by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to introduce new contract sanctions will undermine London as a dispute resolution centre and, consequently, threaten one of the UK’s most overlooked exports – English law.

“Prohibiting British courts from enforcing commercial agreements involving a “targeted regime” or rogue state risks damaging our competitiveness,”  he suggests.

London must remain competitive if it is going to compete with emerging dispute resolution centres, he continues. “Many of the world’s leading centres of dispute resolutions, Hong Kong and Singapore for example, would not be bound by sanctions, making it inevitable that the law of such jurisdictions would be chosen over that of the UK,” he continues.

In 2009 Knowles became the first private practice solicitor to receive a knighthood for at least 13 years, since detailed records began in 1996 (12 January 2009). He is known by colleagues and peers for his forthright opinions. In his column today, Knowles is advocating that the UK should embrace fracking rather than become any more dependant on the EU, Russia and the Middle East foroil and gas exports.

At a recent breakfast event, he says, the pros and cons of fracking were debated. “The result was that, for its own security, to help drive down wholesale energy proces and to plug the gap until renewables are a viable source, the UK needs to exploit its natural shale gas resources”.

It will be good for business, he adds, continuing, ”law firms wil be instrumental in this development – I expect a good deal of work to derive from it.”