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‘We’re all talking about it, but what’s going to happen?’ Why this year’s LIDW is promising in-house lawyers answers around greenwashing, AI, and group litigation

The chairs of next week’s London International Disputes Week (LIDW) are urging in-house lawyers to attend the event to learn about all the latest litigation risks.

Under the theme ‘Uniting for Global Challenge and Opportunity’, this year’s event aims to bring together practitioners from across the entire legal market, addressing the key challenges and opportunities facing solicitors, barristers, and in-house counsel alike.

According to LIDW co-chair Henrietta Jackson-Stops, a mediator with IPOS Mediation, ESG is ‘a theme that every corporate has to be really aware of’. While private practice litigators and barristers have long predicted a surge in disputes activity in this area, Jackson-Stops points out that for in-house counsel it’s particularly important to think about how to balance ESG obligations and responsibilities with the difficulties of disputes, ‘particularly when they become public and have an impact on reputation’.

The topic will be discussed during the main conference on 4 June as part of a session entitled ‘Risk & Reputation in a Values-Driven World’. Virgin Group CEO Josh Baylisss, previously the organisation’s GC, is also expected to discuss ESG as part of his ‘View from Business’ talk the same day.

Reputation and risk will also be discussed on day three (5 June) in ‘An Era of Constant Change’, which will explore the GC’s role in delivering sustainable growth while managing global ESG risks.

The risks to corporates of ESG-related disputes remain high, despite the high court’s dismissal of ClientEarth’s claim against Shell last year. As LIDW co-chair and Pinsent Masons litigation partner Michael Fletcher points out: ‘It’s an environment where there are funders and claimant firms who are looking to help bring people together to pursue claims, where those claims have merit.’

Greenwashing is a particular issue that looks set to prompt an uptick in group litigation claims, as demonstrated in the US, where Delta Airlines faces a potential class action in California alleging that the airline misled consumers when advertising itself as carbon-neutral.

The trend is spreading in Europe, too, with environmental groups filing a claim in the Netherlands alleging that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has created a false impression that it is taking action to reduce carbon emissions.

Collective actions

The event will also look at the broader risk of collective actions, which continue to rise. As Fletcher points out: ‘Many in-house lawyers will have an eye on mass-action risk at the moment, be that in the competition space or the ESG space or elsewhere.’

Following the Supreme Court’s 2021 decision upholding the Competition Appeals Tribunal’s (CAT) certification of Merricks v Mastercard, claimants are bringing more and more claims in the CAT – and the trend has spilled over into the environmental space. The first environmental collective action claim in the CAT was brought against Severn Trent Water and five other water companies in 2023. The claim is brought on behalf of more than 20m UK customers, and alleges abuse of dominance to overcharge customers.

LIDW will discuss the developing consumer collective actions regime in ‘CAT amongst the pigeons – Competition law, the CAT, group actions and the next big trends’.

Litigation funding

Along with the increase in collective actions, litigation funding is inevitably also high on the LIDW agenda, with the Post Office scandal drawing additional public scrutiny to the space.

Despite the initial fallout from the Supreme Court’s 2023 PACCAR decision, which ruled that litigation funding agreements (LFAs) that receive a percentage of damages constitute damages-based agreements (DBAs) and are therefore unenforceable under the DBA regulations, funding looks set to remain active – particularly in light of the Litigation Funding Agreements Bill, which aims to reverse PACCAR. Both perspectives will be discussed in the LIDW panel ‘Disputes funding: predictions for the future’ – that of those seeking litigation finance, and that of the organisations facing funded claims.


No conference in 2024 would be complete without at least one discussion of AI. It’s ‘what people want to talk about right now’, notes Fletcher. As AI becomes increasingly integrated into both the dispute resolution space and the legal market more generally, discussions are triggered around regulation and risks related to privacy and data protection and the question of liability.

‘We’re all talking about it’, says Fletcher, ‘but what’s going to happen?’ At LIDW Unlikely AI senior software engineer Kit Burgess will speak on ‘Navigating legal and technical issues in AI disputes’, while master of the rolls Sir Geoffrey Vos and high court judge Mrs Justice Joanna Smith will be joined by speakers from Quinn Emanuel and TrailView to offer ‘A Judicious look at AI’ and discuss the impact that AI will have on the future of litigation.

Jackson-Stops warns that while in-house counsel will likely benefit significantly from greater deployment of AI, they must ‘walk a fine line between getting the best legal advice possible, but also getting value for money and not pursuing disputes to trial that could be resolved in a different way.’ She also notes that parties are moving away from simply looking for a favourable determination at trial and towards quicker and more efficient dispute resolution.

Addresses and networking

Other high-profile speakers at LIDW 2024 include former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard AC, a highly accomplished figure in both public service and mediation, who will take part in a ‘fireside chat’ about dispute resolution involving states and state entities with Lord (Peter) Goldsmith KC, PC, London co-managing partner and chair of European and Asian litigation at Debevoise & Plimpton.

Delegates will also hear a recorded address from technology expert Richard Susskind OBE KC (Hon) on how to think about artificial intelligence law, while the list of speakers also includes senior in-house lawyers from organisations including Siemens Energy and IHG Hotels & Resorts.

The week will commence with an International Arbitration Day on 3 June, hosted by Clyde & Co, Covington & Burling, and Kirkland & Ellis, exploring the latest developments in the sector, how London factors into these trends, and the role that lawyers have to play. The International Arbitration Centre (IAC) will also hold networking hubs throughout the week.

The main conference will be held at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London.

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