As our 2020 Disputes Yearbook hits desks, it is an appropriate moment to reflect on how litigation and arbitration evolved through the decade just past. And what a period it was for contentious lawyers. The post-Lehman era caused much turbulence for the British economy and policy makers but proved bountiful for disputes counsel, supplementing the already rich stream of oligarch litigation that was flushing through the London courts with a lucrative line in crisis-related work.
It was a decade hugely changed by the interlocking dynamics of new entrants to the disputes scene and external funding fuel-injecting the claimant side of the market. Large plcs, particularly banks, had until the 2010s been able to strong-arm litigation teams into not acting against them – even attempting to blackball Magic Circle firms on several high-profile occasions. In retrospect the 2008 UK launch of US disputes leader Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, alongside the creation of boutique Enyo Law two years later, were two hugely significant events for the City disputes scene, breaking the deadlock in a market bordering on dysfunctional as other claimant-centric entrants followed.