Our disputes team undertakes commercial litigation, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution. As much of our work is for technology enabled businesses, we have developed particular experience of disputes over intellectual property, both hard and soft, data privacy and disputes arising from M&A, venture capital and private equity deals.
As an international law firm, we frequently work on cross-jurisdictional, multi-party disputes and do so in partnership with a network of independent, overseas law firms with which we regularly collaborate. In recent times, we’ve been involved in resolving disputes in India, Brazil, various states in the USA, Norway, Japan and many other jurisdictions.
It’s obviously a fact of commercial life that not all commercial disputes can be resolved without resorting to litigation. Given the major role played by London in the global financial system, we are regularly involved in commercial litigation involving complex financial issues.
Our corporate law practice involves highly complex deals, sometimes with substantial private equity and debt finance, between multiple parties. These deals usually require inter-related legal agreements and the parties to these arrangements sometimes disagree and consult us on how they can fall back on them as a basis to litigate.
In addition, we have developed expertise in claims in the Financial List (i.e. those for more than £50 million relating to certain finance products or claims requiring special expertise in, or which raise issues of general importance in, the financial markets) as well as litigation in the Chancery Division, especially in relation to business disputes and claims over intellectual property.
Through our technology focus we have also developed specialist experience in litigating in the Technology and Construction Court (part of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court) and, in this, we advise on disputes over ICT outsourcing and other arrangements as well as remedies for their breach. With many technology contracts now awarded following a public procurement and competitive tendering process, our work now includes challenging and re-opening contract awards, particularly in the health, education, technology and telecommunications sectors.
More generally, we assist with commercial litigation over breach of contract, misrepresentation and matters of contractual interpretation. We also advise on general company law disputes including derivative claims, breach of warranty and shareholder disputes.
Many contracts, particularly those between international parties, contain an arbitration clause requiring disputes to be resolved by some form of arbitration.
We have broad experience of acting in arbitrations in all the major international arbitral institutes, including the ICC and LCIA and can assist with the selection of an arbitrator who possesses the requisite expertise in the field in which a dispute has occurred.
We advise on questions arising in proposed arbitrations including as to the seat of the arbitration, time limits, the giving of requisite notices and powers to challenge awards.
We advise on ad hoc arbitrations, matters under the Arbitration Act and the interpretation and enforceability of arbitration clauses in contracts. We can also advise on the steps required to enforce arbitration clauses and have successfully obtained anti-suit injunctions on behalf of international clients.
The vast majority of disputes do not result in a trial. Cases are often settled outside of court and disputes are resolved through mediation, arbitration, expert determination and negotiated settlement and via discussion and correspondence.
Mediation is encouraged by the courts and it is an increasingly popular way of resolving disputes either before or after proceedings have been issued. Mediation involves engaging the services of an independent, qualified mediator who will help the parties find a solution to their problems.
One of the great advantages for our clients is that mediation is entirely confidential and the parties are free to explore any ways in which a resolution can be reached. This can sometimes mean that new commercial terms are agreed or different assets are offered in settlement. These solutions are well beyond the scope of orders that a court can make.
At White & Black, we aim to limit our client’s costs and are keen to avoid the need for protracted, time consuming litigation wherever possible. Over 50% of our disputes are referred to mediation and 90% of those cases will settle either at mediation or shortly after.
We are experienced advocates at mediation, presenting our clients’ cases and negotiating with a commercial and practical approach. Finally, if a settlement is reached, we can draft an appropriate settlement agreement protecting our clients’ best interests and bringing the case to an end quicker and more cheaply than conventional court proceedings.
Intellectual property is a vital issue for many companies, but is particularly important for technology-enabled businesses, both in protecting their brand and product names but also in securing proprietary rights in innovations.
Inevitably there are times when our clients need to assert their intellectual property rights, or defend themselves when they face allegations of infringement or invalidity. We advise and represent our clients in disputes relating to patents, design rights, trade marks and copyright, as well as on related issues over trade secrets and the misuse of confidential information.
We work closely with, and are often instructed by, leading firms of patent attorneys both in the UK and abroad where their technical knowledge combines with our litigation expertise. We act on matters with an international dimension where there are portfolios of rights or allegations of infringement in various jurisdictions.
We act for clients in the High Court, including the Patents Court and Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, and look forward to litigating in the new Unified Patent Court when it launches in 2017. We always try to recommend speedy, commercial solutions that might avoid the need for litigation and advise on mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.