2014’s Top 20 Cases: looking back on 2013

What happened to 2013’s cases to watch?

Of the 20 cases listed as ones to watch by The Lawyer in January 2013, eight received judgment, five are ongoing and seven settled. Here’s a snapshot of the corkers.

The multimillion-pound dispute between Britain’s richest man Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of ArcelorMittal, and rival Manmohan Varma saw the legal twist of the year when the pair settled just hours before their case was to kick off in the High Court.

The tycoons had been thrashing it out for years, with the battle promising to give an insight into the wealthy elite of Anglo-Indian society. Rice importer Varma, instructing RPC partner Tim Brown and 4-5 Gray’s Inn’s Robert Griffiths QC, claimed that Mittal, represented by Peters & Peters partner Jonathan Tickner and
3 Verulam Buildings’ Paul Lowenstein QC, had promised him a commission while the pair were in Mittal’s private jet.

Also hoping to avoid the court spotlight last year were Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), which avoided a £140m court showdown with London Underground (LUL) after settling a professional negligence case.

The case, thought to be among the largest ever filed against a City firm, was due to be heard over four weeks in October, with LUL bringing in Ince & Co partner Charlotte Davies and Justin Fenwick QC of 4 New Square.

A number of other trials, meanwhile, are expected to rumble on into 2014.

It will be interesting to hear the outcome of Deloitte’s appeal after the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) fined it a record-breaking £14m in September for failing to manage conflicts of interest.

The decision came on the back of a public tribunal in March, which examined Deloitte and one of its former partners, Maghsoud Einollahi. In question was the role he played advising the ‘Phoenix Four’ directors while acting as administrator to collapsed carmaker MG Rover Group.

The hotly anticipated trial saw Fountain Court’s Tim Dutton QC appear for claimant AADB and go head-to-head with 4 New Square’s Sue Carr QC, marking one of the last cases Carr worked on before she was appointed to the High Court bench in May.

Another trial that captured the attention of the profession was the long-running trademark battle between Mark & Spencer and Interflora, with the High Court ruling in May that the retailer had infringed Interflora’s trademark.

The ruling brought to an end a case that began in 2008, signalling a win for Pinsent Masons partner Iain Connor, who instructed 11 South Square’s Michael Silverleaf QC for Interflora.

Finally, one of the biggest cases spinning out of the recession, Graiseley Properties & Ors v Barclays Bank, will remain one to watch in 2014. The high-profile Libor mis-selling case against Barclays has seen several changes to its cast list since it began, and at the close of 2013 Graiseley Investments switched its adviser Cooke Young & Keidan for Wilkes Partnership following concerns over costs.