The Hot 100: Litigation/regulation

Neal Gibson 


Dual-qualified Nabarro litigation partner Neal Gibson has represented a variety of high-profile pensions and financial services clients in cases spanning the IBM litigation to the restructuring of UK Coal. 

He led a team to win a case for trustees of IBM over documents going back to 1983. He also represented the trustees in a challenge to IBM UK’s right to close its final salary pensions scheme to future accrual. He is also involved in the mammoth swaps misselling case against RBS, pursuing a claim on behalf of a real estate development company and dealing with a major cross-border fraud case involving six jurisdictions.

He took the American Bar exams in 2001 and has built a reputation defending group actions for corporate clients and their insurers.

l-r: Mike Grant, Tessa Gregory, Sue Thackeray, Andrew Hart, Neal Gibson, Kamal Shah,
Justin Michaelson, Joanne Ling, Jonathan Tickner, Paul Stevens, Holly Short, Tom Hibbert, Hilary Ross

Mike Grant 


Weightmans head of professional risk Mike Grant, who specialises in professional negligence disputes in the construction sector, has had an extremely busy 12 months. 

The undoubted highlight, amid a wealth of cases that were resolved through mediation, was the June 2013 High Court judgment in a claim brought against Grant’s clients, a firm of surveyors, over mill buildings in Leeds.

The claimants lost on all counts and, in a highly-critical judgment, Mr Justice Akenhead awarded Grant’s clients partial indemnity costs. The case helped Grant become a go-to expert for such disputes.

Costs also featured heavily in Grant’s year. He is deeply involved with Weightmans’ consultancy service Compli, which among other things helps law firms to deal with the cost issues thrown up by the Jackson reforms and the Plebgate case, and in 2013 saw enquiries rocket.

Tessa Gregory 

Public Interest Lawyers

Public Interest Lawyers solicitor Tessa Gregory has been hitting the headlines in recent years, taking on high-profile case after high-profile case.

She represented graduate Cait Reilly and mechanic Jamie Wilson in a landmark case against the UK Government after Reilly was forced to work for no pay in Poundland so she could receive Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Wilson was sanctioned for six months after refusing to work 30-hour weeks for six months with no pay.

Past cases include acting for Ekaterina Zatuliveter, the Russian parliamentary aide who was accused of being a spy after having an affair with a member of the Commons defence committee.

She also advised Roseline Akhalu, a kidney transplant patient who faced deportation to Nigeria, where due to her condition she would have died within weeks. 

Kate Harrison 

Harrison Grant

Since helping to establish Harrison Grant in 2004, Kate Harrison has been a pioneer in environmental law. She is currently engaged in challenging the High Speed 2 train line for a consortium of 15 local councils.

Harrison is also acting for Greenpeace on a sustainable fishing judicial review and on the charity’s anti-fracking campaign, with the group maintaining that energy companies’ plans to drill horizontally under people’s homes are illegal. 

She also represented Greenpeace during its 2010/11 North Sea oil drilling challenge in the High Court, stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

Harrison previously worked in-house at mental health charity Mind before moving to private practice with Scott-Moncrieff & Associates, which she left to establish Harrison Grant.

Andrew Hart 

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

In these price-conscious times, securing litigation costs for your client is becoming increasingly important. So the work of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s joint head of financial institutions Andrew Hart in defending Deutsche Bank against a counterclaim brought by Norwegian company Sebastian Holdings last year is particularly noteworthy.

Deutsche Bank racked up a £60m legal bill while suing Sebastian in a $240m compensation claim – a sum overshadowed by Sebastian’s $8bn counterclaim for breach of contract. But Mr Justice Cook ordered Sebastian to pay the compensation plus 85 per cent of Deutsche’s fees – an outstanding result.

The case left Hart with little time for other matters, but he did manage to advise on cases such as Deloitte’s spat with MG Rover. 

The continued impact of the financial crisis in the courts means he is likely to be just as busy this year.

Tom Hibbert 


Having been appointed head of RPC’s financial disputes team in December 2009, Tom Hibbert has placed the firm at the forefront of some of the biggest banking scandals of a generation.

Specialising in investment banking litigation, in particular capital markets and fund management-related matters, Hibbert has acted on various high-profile disputes arising from the credit crisis, mainly for institutional investors. 

Hibbert has also led on disputes arising from the Russian debt crisis, the Eurobond and litigation regarding collapsed syndicated loans.

Over the past year Hibbert’s main focus has been acting for financial advisory company CF Partners in its high-profile case against Barclays Bank over its acquisition of Tricorona, as well as leading for claimants on the various scandals arising out of fixed benchmark banking rates, including Libor.

Sophie Lamb 

Debevoise & Plimpton

Debevoise & Plimpton litigation partner Sophie Lamb is widely praised for her expertise in international arbitration. She is particularly well known for representing clients in billion-dollar, high-profile, politically sensitive and often market-shaping arbitration cases and arbitration-related court trials.

Last year Lamb appeared before the Supreme Court alongside fellow Debevoise partner Peter Goldsmith QC for Kazakhstan-based Ust-Kamenogorsk Hydropower Plant JSC, with Essex Court Chambers barristers acting for the respondents in a key appeal over the English court’s ability to enforce arbitration awards. 

In addition, Lamb’s expertise in public law and public international law makes her sought-after for arbitrations brought by foreign investors against states. Her recent representation of Russia’s Mobile TeleSystems OJSC in an investor-state dispute against Uzbekistan is a case in point.

Joanne Ling 

RGC Jenkins & Co

RGC Jenkins & Co senior associate Joanne Ling achieved a major victory in the Court of Appeal for Nestlé in its appeal against Cadbury’s attempts to trademark the shade of purple known as Pantone 2865c, which is used on the packaging of Cadbury’s iconic Dairy Milk bars. 

The ruling overturned the decisions of both the High Court and the UK Intellectual Property Office, and turned, as Lord Justice Mummery noted, on “quite a narrow point” –that Cadbury’s trademark also covered other elements of its packaging and a trademark registration of the colour would be unclear and would “offend against the principle of fairness”.

Justin Michaelson 

Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson

The February 2013 Supreme Court decision in VTB Capital v Nutritek – a $330m cross-border dispute that centred on allegations of fraud and conspiracy – is likely to be mentioned for years to come in the context of the rule of jurisdiction. And when it is, Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson partner Justin Michaelson’s name will certainly be checked.

Michaelson, who started working on the case while still at legacy SJ Berwin, was right in the thick of the action. He represented the respondents, who were alleged to have participated in the supposed fraudulent conspiracy against Russian state bank VTB. 

In the process of winning the battle to have the case heard in England, and subsequently the case itself, Michaelson has turned himself into a go-to adviser for anyone with grievances against VTB, while also gifting the market some useful guidance on forum challenges.

Hilary Ross 


Hilary Ross took on one of the biggest scandals to hit the headlines this year when, as head of retail, food and hospitality at DWF, she represented food retailer Iceland after horsemeat and horse-DNA were detected in its beef burgers.

With only three days’ notice, Ross supported Iceland in its submissions to the House of Commons Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 

Not only did she deftly navigate the simultaneous demands of presenting the facts and deflecting numerous conflicting political agendas exerting force on the hearing, but she also diverted negative press by placing the horsemeat scandal in a wider European regulatory context.

Ross is still involved in corporate governance work to improve the supply chain system and is now working on several cases at a European level.

Kamal Shah 

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood’s India and Africa group head Kamal Shah is no stranger to the Hot 100 – he featured five years ago as an associate. But he is back in with a splash for his role as leader of the firm’s efforts to build a thriving business in two of the world’s fastest-growing regions, as well as his work as a litigator and arbitrator.

Shah’s work in the past year included a key case for the Arab Republic of Egypt. He is leading a cross-border team of law firms, private investigators and forensic accountants looking into the alleged mismanagement of up to $70bn of funds by former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. 

He is also acting on litigation over a 2004 arbitration award in Nigeria, which is awaiting judgment from the High Court.

Holly Short 


Since joining Eversheds in October 2011, senior associate Holly Short has thrown herself into a series of high-profile industrial disputes affecting millions of people. 

She began by preparing an injunction application to try to avert the Boxing Day Tube strikes in 2011, and since then her feet have barely touched the ground. 

In summer 2012 she helped co-ordinate a record 10 injunctions to prevent the ‘Olympic bonus’ bus strikes by 25,000 London bus drivers.

Last year Short helped negotiate a groundbreaking agreement with a major union, proving her ability to handle difficult situations with unerring good humour, charm and a pragmatic approach that wins over even the toughest union reps.

Paul Stevens 


Olswang head of international IP Paul Stevens had a 2013 chock full of trials and appeals, such as Zynga v Mattel and key cases involving football fixtures and catch-up TV. 2014 is set to be even busier. Three of Stevens’ cases are set to go to appeal later this year, including acting for bookmaker Stan James on a case relating to football data, and for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 over disputed free-to-air broadcasts.

Stevens is not only hot because of his work protecting rights holders. Last year, in a managerial revamp at Olswang, Stevens took over as IP head from Mike Burdon. 

As group head at one of the market’s most prominent TMT firms, Stevens will certainly have his hands full.

Sue Thackeray 


Sue Thackeray, head of commercial litigation at HowardKennedyFsi, was at the heart of the High Court decision last year to throw out a defamation claim brought by retired Moscow policeman Pavel Karpov against her client, UK fund manager Bill Browder, who is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management. 

The case related to allegations made on a campaigning website run by Browder about the death of his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian jail in 2009. 

Browder and his UK-based fund Hermitage Capital Management claimed that Karpov was complicit in the “torture and murder” of Magnitsky. 

The ruling was widely hailed as the death knell for libel tourism, with Mr Justice Simon saying the case had no business appearing in the London courts.

Jonathan Tickner 

Peters & Peters

Peters & Peters partner Jonathan Tickner represented steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal against Manmohan Varma in one of 2013’s biggest disputes. 

The multimillion-pound battle settled on the steps of court in March 2013, but Tickner has been no less busy since then. 

He acted for Charles Saatchi in relation to the headline-grabbing fraud case between Saatchi’s ex-wife Nigella Lawson and former assistants Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, in which the pair were acquitted.

This year, Tickner is set to represent longstanding client the Department of Health, along with 10 strategic health authorities and 144 primary care trusts, which allege that pharmaceuticals giant Reckitt Benckiser Group has engaged in anti-competitive behaviour.

Tickner, who trained at Peters & Peters 20 years ago, lists his proudest achievement as working for “good guys” the Department of Health for 14 years.