Mark Harper’s areas of specialism include banking, company, dispute resolution, fraud, insolvency, partnership, professional negligence and sport.
Harper was educated at Arnold Hill Comprehensive School (Nottingham) and Downing College, Cambridge (MA (Hons) Law). He is a Hardwicke Scholar of Lincoln’s Inn.
Throughout his time at the Bar, Harper has regularly advised and acted on behalf of a number of major banks and finance providers in relation to banking litigation to the extent now that he is regarded as one of the leading juniors outside London in this area of work. His practice in this regard encompasses (among other things) all issues relating to security enforcement (including challenges to the validity of the security), security rectification and completion, title defect resolution, restitution (in particular recovery of payments by mistake), fraud, guarantees, bills of exchange, consumer credit and professional negligence in the context of the bank/customer relationship.
Harper is experienced in providing advice and representation in relation to all aspects of domestic company law with particular emphasis on directors duties, shareholders (agreements, rights and remedies), administration of the company and maintenance and reduction of share capital. While the work Harper does in this area is predominantly contentious he also does provide advice in relation to non-contentious issues of domestic company law. He has recently acted (together with Paul Chaisty QC — instructed by Addleshaw Goddard LLP) for one of the former directors of the Hampton Trust Group of Companies in defending a claim brought against him by Hampton for breach of fiduciary duty concerning a number of alleged instances of self-dealing and misappropriation of assets.
Company directors’ disqualification
Harper has considerable experience in this area, experience which includes 14 years of acting on behalf of the official receiver and the secretary of state in his capacity as a member of the Treasury Provincial Panel and from being involved as junior counsel in two of the most recent high-profile directors’ disqualification cases: the proceedings brought against (a) the former directors of World of Leather and Uno (Harper acted as junior counsel to Paul Chaisty QC on behalf of the secretary of state) and (b) the former directors of the Accident Group (Harper acted as junior counsel to Michael Booth QC on behalf of Michael Watson, the former finance director). He provides advice and representation in relation to (a) the investigation; (b) the section 16 stage; (c) the substantive proceedings; (d) the compromise of the substantive proceedings; (e) applications for permission pursuant to section 17 CDDA 1986 and (f) liability under and enforcement of disqualification orders or undertakings.
Harper has developed a leading junior practice in the areas of chancery and commercial litigation, something recognised by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500. He regularly provides representation and advice on disputes in the Chancery Division, Commercial/Mercantile Court, the Technology and Construction Court and the County Court. His experience in this area includes disputes in relation to:
- Agency (including disputes in relation to the Commercial Agents Regulations) — recent cases include (i) acting for Carcraft in successfully defending a claim brought against it by a party who had been defrauded by a salesman employed by Carcraft; (ii) acting for a client in successfully defending a claim brought against him by a supplier in relation to a contract purportedly made on behalf of the client with the supplier by a former employee of the client; (iii) acting for a client in successfully defending a claim brought against him by a supplier in relation to a series of orders which a person (without authority) had placed with the supplier purportedly on behalf of the client; and (iv) acting on behalf of a firm of accountants in claiming fees due from a major PLC pursuant to a Letter of Retainer in relation to a sale of a business where it is alleged that the Retainer is not binding on the PLC because the Chief Executive who signed the same did not have the authority to bind the PLC to the same.
- Employer/employee post-termination disputes — recent cases include (i) acting on behalf of a major ’Green Initiative’ company (whose business had been ’hijacked’ by a former employee and in effect transferred over to a new company which the former employee and a competitor had incorporated) in securing the necessary interim and final relief to restore the business to the client; (ii) acting on behalf of a research and development scientist in proceedings brought against him by his former employer in which they allege that a ‘ground breaking’ product he has developed post his employment was developed using confidential information that he had misappropriated from them; (iii) acting on behalf of a salesman and his new employer in proceedings brought against him by his former employer in which it is alleged that a client database has been misappropriated and (iv) acting on behalf of a financial advisor in proceedings (including a Search and Seize Order) brought against him by his former employer in relation to client files and details removed by the advisor from the employer.
- Restraint of trade – Harper (together with Paul Chaisty QC — instructed by Hill Dickinson LLP) recently suucessfully represented Wayne and Coleen Rooney in their dispute with their former management company (Proactive) in which it was alleged (on behalf of Wayne Rooney) that his eight-year Image Rights Representation Agreement was void and unenforceable as an unreasonable restraint of trade — Proactive v Rooney & others  EWHC 1807 (QBD)
- Sale of goods — Harper is currently acting on behalf of a football club in its dispute (proceeding in the Manchester Mercantile Court) with its former team and replica kit supplier. The case involves (among other things) issues as to the quality of the products supplied with particular regard to the reputation and image that the football club is trying to portray.
- Warranty claims (arising predominantly from the sale(s) of businesses and shares) — Harper has recently finished acting for a purchaser of shares in an organic food supply company in relation to proceedings that it brought against the vendors for breach of warranty in failing to disclose the actual or threatened breakdown of a number of key customer relationships.
The banking, company, dispute resolution and partnership aspects of Harper’s practice all encompass dealing with particular issues of fraud. He does however have experience of providing representation in relation to cases which could be classed as pure ‘fraud’ predominantly arising out of fraudulent insurance claims where the insurance company is seeking to recover monies paid out to parties involved in fictitious/staged accidents.
Harper regularly provides advice and representation in relation to all issues arising out of corporate and personal insolvency with particular emphasis on (a) contentious proceedings in relation to allegations of misfeasance, transactions at an undervalue, preference and transactions to defraud creditors; (b) challenges to the appointments and/or decisions of office holders; (c) income payments orders in the context of personal bankruptcy and (d) suspension of discharge in the context of personal bankruptcy. He has recently acted for the trustee in bankruptcy of Kerry Katona in connection with an application for an income payments order and an application for the suspension of the discharge of the bankruptcy.
Harper has developed a leading junior practice in the area of partnership law (as recognised by his recommendation in this field in Chambers & Partners). His practice in this area involves advice and representation in relation to all aspects of partnership law and he is a regular ‘port of call’ for professional partnerships in the north west (or individual partners within such partnerships) when advice is needed in connection with partnership matters, in particular exclusion of partners, breakdown in relationships between partners and the protection of partnership assets consequential upon the same. Harper’s partnership and corporate practice also includes advice to and in relation to LLPs and disputes among the members of LLPs.
Harper’s professional negligence practice involves a considerable amount of work concerning the mis-selling of financial, investment and tax-saving products and schemes including products such as alternative invest markets, unregulated collective investment schemes, film schemes, environmental/eco tax saving schemes, endowment purchase schemes, and so on. He has considerable experience of providing advice and representation to both claimants and insurers in relation to professional negligence claims involving solicitors, accountants, financial advisers, and surveyors.
Harper has considerable experience of providing advice and representation in relation to disputes between shareholders (and shareholders and the company) including derivative proceedings under the Companies Act 2006, unfair prejudice petitions, winding up and enforcement of shareholder agreements. Such advice and representation is not limited to any court proceedings which prove necessary but also addresses what are often the key issues in any such dispute namely (among other things) the steps/tactics which can be taken to (a) avoid a dispute at the outset; (b) respond effectively to threatened or actual prejudicial conduct; (c) engineer the removal of a minority shareholder; and (d) resolve a dispute outside of court proceedings.
Harper’s dispute resolution Practice involves sports-related disputes and his experience in this regard is illustrated by his successful representation (with Paul Chaisty QC) of Wayne Rooney in his dispute with his former management company, Proactive (Proactive v Rooney & others  EWHC 1807 (QBD)) and his claim that his Image Rights Representation Agreement with them was unenforceable and void as an unreasonable restraint of trade. The case involved consideration of (among other issues) image rights in relation to professional footballers, the payments properly payable in respect of image rights, whether or not it is appropriate for commission on image rights payments to be at a greater rate than that payable in respect of payments paid under a playing contract; and whether or not the greater length of an image rights representation agreement could be used as a means of avoiding the FA/FIFA limit of two years on player representation agreements.
Following on from his involvement in this litigation Harper was and is retained on behalf of Wayne Rooney and a number of other present or former Premier League football players in advising and representing them in proceedings against the financial advice arm of their management companies in relation to the mis-selling of investments in Charlotte Harbour (Florida) and Monte-Resina (Spain). Fundamental to the proceedings are a consideration of wealth management issues in relation to football players at both ends of the Premier League pay-scale from its inception to the present day.
Harper’s practice also encompasses providing advice and representation in relation to (a) proceedings before sports tribunals; (b) arbitrations; (c) challenges in the courts to the disciplinary decisions of sporting bodies (including applications by disciplined clubs to be reinstated to competitions or leagues); (d) contractual disputes between players and clubs, and so on.
Click here to find out more about Mark Harper.
This material was sourced from the Kings Chambers website.