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Litigation watch: Weil and Quinn Emanuel successful in high profile Barclay brothers Court of Appeal case

A high profile Court of Appeal decision has today (3 July) seen Weil Gotshal & Manges and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan see off a challenge against the Barclay brothers and their associated companies over the ownership of three iconic London hotels.

Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay, represented by Weil Gotshal’s head of litigation Matthew Shankland, successfully defended an appeal by Irish developer Patrick McKillen in a long running dispute over the ownership and control of Claridges, the Berkeley and the Connaught.

McKillen, advised by Herbert Smith Freehills litigation partner John Whiteoak, had alleged that the Barclay brothers used unfair means to bypass his shareholder pre-emption rights to buy more shares in the hotels’ holding company, Coroin, after they took control of shares in the name of Irish financer Derek Quinlan. Quinlan was defended by Quinn Emanuel London managing partner Richard East and Matthew Bunting and represented in court by Stephen Auld QC, Michael Fealy and Michael d’Arcy.

However, the Court of Appeal led by Lord Justices Arden, Moore-Bick and Rimer found unanimously in favour of the defendants, concluding that the High Court was right to find that the arrangement between the Barclay brothers and Quinlan ‘did not breach’ rules in the shareholders agreement, did not trigger McKillen’s pre-emption rights, that they had not caused McKillen unfair prejudice and that they did not act in bad faith.

In a case notable for its heavyweight line up of legal advisers, the Barclay brothers were represented in court by Ken MacLean QC, Lord Grabiner QC, Jeffery Onions QC, Sa’ad Hossain and Edmund Nourse, all of One Essex Court.

At the Court of Appeal stage HSF instructed Lord Goldsmith QC, Philip Marshall QC, Richard Hill QC and Gregory Denton-Cox. The case was originally led by HSF litigation partner Kevin Lloyd, who left for Debevoise & Plimpton this year.

Bunting said: ‘This case has always been utterly misconceived, as should have been apparent to Mr McKillen and his advisors from the outset. We are pleased that both the High Court and Court of Appeal have agreed with us about this.’

Shankland added: “Mr McKillen has lost every major point in this appeal. His entire case has now been emphatically rejected in a series of judgments. The Barclay interests have been shown, beyond doubt, to have acted lawfully and fairly at all times in their dealings over Coroin. This has been one of the most significant and complex company cases in the High Court during recent years and certainly one of the most high profile.’

McKillen now faces legal costs approaching £20m.