Legal Business

Disputes perspectives: Tony Singla QC

I’m the youngest of three children. My brother and sister both read law at university, and have become lawyers themselves. My sister is a general counsel, and my brother is a silk. They’re both older than me, and when it came to applying to university, there wasn’t much choice on my part! I benefited a lot from their revision notes…

I briefly contemplated a career in the City, and I did an internship at Goldman Sachs in 2005. It was useful in the sense that it confirmed that I did want to pursue a career in the law.

Legal Business

‘A new challenge’: Freshfields antitrust veteran Jon Lawrence to leave for Brick Court

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer competition litigation head Jon Lawrence is to leave the firm to pursue a career as a barrister at Brick Court Chambers.

Lawrence, who works in the EU dispute resolution group and heads the firm’s competition litigation team, as well as co-leading its cartel skills group.

Lawrence, who has worked at Freshfields for over 30 years, is seeking to join Brick Court in the autumn of 2018 upon successful completion of any pupillage and subject to compliance with any other regulatory requirements.

He will remain at Freshfields until that time, the Magic Circle firm confirmed. It is expected that Lawrence will retain all of his clients and will continue to work on all of his Freshfields mandates until his departure.

Speaking to Legal BusinessLawrence said he ‘needed a new challenge’ and added: ‘I’ve always wanted to do some advocacy. Brick Court is a tremendous set of chambers and if I am able to take up the tenancy in autumn 2018 they will give me the opportunity to do so whilst not letting down my existing clients.’

David Scott, Freshfields’ global practice group leader for dispute resolution told Legal Business: ‘It’s testament to the quality of our partners that they have the opportunity to broaden their careers. Jon’s move offers those clients who are working with him continuity – and of course they also have that from within the outstanding team we have in the firm, which has had a longstanding approach of dual-partnering our cases’. Scott said Lawrence would remain ‘the most highly-regarded competition litigation team in the market.’

Lawrence said that the promotion of competition lawyer Nicholas Frey to partner in March 2017 would fill the void left by his departure, and indicated that there will be more promotions into the practice to compensate.

Among Lawrence’s recent cases is his instruction for MasterCard, fighting an application pending for a £14bn antitrust damages class action on behalf of consumers who used MasterCard credit and debit cards in the UK over a particular period. The case is being brought by class representative and former chief financial services ombudsman Walter Merricks, who is represented by London partner Boris Bronfentrinker at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

Volvo-owned Renault has also instructed Lawrence to defend it in a truck cartel claim brought by a host of European truck owners and manufacturers. Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Paccar, Iveco and Volkswagen’s MAN admitted in 2016 to operating a 14 year price cartel and were fined by the European Commission. Claimants such as the Royal Mail and the Road Haulage Association are joining forces to claim damages.


Legal Business

Brick Court advises as Supreme Court allows Scotland and Wales to intervene in Brexit appeal


Brick Court Chambers is acting for both the Scottish and Welsh governments as the devolved administrations prepare to intervene in the Supreme Court battle over how Brexit can be triggered.

The Scottish Legal Directorate is instructing Martin Chamberlain QC, alongside Lord Advocate James Woolfe QC and Emily MacKenzie as junior counsel. Richard Gordon QC and Tom Pascoe, also of Brick Court, are instructed by the Government of Wales.

The Supreme Court confirmed today (18 November) that the Scottish Government’s application to intervene in the Brexit case had been granted along with the Welsh Government, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain and the ‘Expat Interveners’ George Birnie and others.

Additionally the attorney-general for Northern Ireland has made a reference to the court regarding devolution issues relating to that jurisdiction.

The statement added: ‘Counsel for the Scottish Government and for the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain have been invited to address in their skeleton arguments the relevance of points of Scots Law, so far as they do not also form part of the law of England and Wales, to the determination of the present proceedings.’

The landmark case will start before all 11 Supreme Court judges on December 5 and is likely to last four days. The decision will not be delivered until early in 2017.

Earlier this month, a group of claimants landed their first blow in the article 50 case against the government, after the High Court ruled that it has no constitutional power to trigger Brexit.

Mishcon de Reya partner Kasra Nouroozi led the team advising the headline claimant on the challenge and instructed Blackstone Chambers’ duo Lord David Pannick QC and Tom Hickman, as well as Matrix Chambers’ Rhodri Thompson QC and Monckton Chambers’ Anneli Howard.

The case has been brought by investment banker Gina Miller, and others.

A second legal challenge was brought by high-profile barrister Jolyon Maugham QC of Devereux Chambers, who launched a publicly-funded campaign with human rights firm Bindmans to consider a public law case on the result of the referendum.

Maugham QC set up the campaign on, and raised its target of £10,000 in 12 hours from more than 400 backers. The money raised will be used to take advice from public and human rights partner John Halford of Bindmans, who will instruct a team of constitutional law barristers.

A third claimant is British hairdresser Deir Dos Santos, who is represented by Edwin Coe. Defending the government, namely the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis, was 11KBW’s Jason Coppel QC.

Read more: ‘Q&A: Jolyon Maugham QC on the first victory for Brexit’s legal challenge’

Legal Business

Simmons instructs Brick Court to advise on future of EU patent court


City law firms are supporting an investigation into the future of the UK’s position in the Unitary Patent Court (UPC) post-Brexit with Simmons & Simmons instructing Brick Court on the matter.

An opinion delivered by Brick Court Chambers EU law specialist Richard Gordon QC and Tom Pascoe stated that the UK could remain bound by the UPC providing it is still bound by EU law relating to the court.

Linklaters and Herbert Smith Freehills are among 20 law firms supporting the investigation into the possibility of a non-EU member state remaining part of the UPC. LB100 firms Bird & Bird, Gowling WLG, Fieldfisher, CMS Cameron McKenna and Browne Jacobson all supported the instruction.

The UPC was to have exclusive powers over European patents in member states who have ratified the agreement, but the UK’s expected exit from the EU placed its position in the court at risk.

The authors of the report said it was constitutionally possible for the UK to participate in the EU court if it signed up to all its legal provisions, but it would also need support from the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The life sciences and chemistry branch of the court was planned to sit in London. Premises for the court had already been found in 2015 after the government signed a lease for office space in Aldgate Tower.

Simmons head of IP Rowan Freeland told Legal Business: ‘We instructed counsel who were experts in EU constitutional issues, around 20 firms were involved to play a part in the thought leadership in the discussions.

‘Most of the debate around Brexit has suggested we need a hard Brexit, but this is an area where, within a tightly circumscribed area of the law it would be possible for the UK to achieve a softer Brexit and maintain the advantages of participation in the UPC.’

Freeland was joined by a consortium including the IP Federation, an industry body representing IP owners, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and several law firms that specialise in patent litigation.

Legal Business

Top silk Howard QC to co-lead Brick Court as Hirst QC steps down


Brick Court Chambers‘ Mark Howard QC has been appointed to co-head the set with Helen Davies QC, as incumbent Jonathan Hirst QC prepares to step down.

With his new appointment unopposed Howard QC will now lead the set, which houses nearly 40 silks, alongside Davies QC who has served in the role alongside Jonathan Hirst QC since 2013. Hirst QC will remain at the set as a door tenant.

Widely considered a heavyweight silk at the commercial Bar Howard QC has appeared in some of the most high-profile commercial cases in recent years, including most recently Terra Firma’s £2.3bn battle against Citibank at London’s High Court over the purchase of EMI in 2007. He further advised Imperial Tobacco before the Competition Appeals Tribunal in the leading case of Imperial Tobacco v OFT, setting aside the then largest fine ever imposed by the OFT in a competition case.

His status as a leading silk at Brick Court has helped drive the financial power of the set, which alongside the likes of Essex Court Chambers, Fountain Court Chambers, One Essex Court, and Blackstone Chambers, command very lucrative fees while attracting a high calibre of junior talent at the Bar.

On the reshuffle of leadership, Davies QC said: ‘[Howard’s] appointment was unopposed which reflects the very high esteem his fellow members of chambers hold him in. We are extremely grateful to Jonathan for the very significant contribution he has made to chambers throughout his tenancy, and most particularly as a longstanding joint heads of chambers.’

Other changes at the premier set of late has been the recruitment of junior barristers, including Wilberforce Chambers’ rising star Laura Newton and 20 Essex Street’s Edward Ho.

For more on Mark Howard QC, click here. For more on the super sets at the Bar, see ‘Set in Stone – testing time for mid-tier sets as elite London sets tighten their grip

Legal Business

Brick Court continues hiring spree with 20 Essex Street junior star


Leading commercial set Brick Court Chambers has made another key junior hire with 20 Essex Street rising star Edward Ho. Ho appeared as sole counsel in the Court of Appeal, High Court and in arbitration.

His current and recent work includes acting alone for the successful Claimants in a three day, multi-million dollar LMAA Arbitration; representing a major national oil company in a $300m UNCITRAL Arbitration in a dispute under a drilling services contract and representing the National Iranian Oil Company in a significant Arbitration Act 1996 appeal.

In June Brick Court appointed Wilberforce Chambers’ rising star Laura Newton who was part of an eight-strong team, comprising silks Lexa Hilliard QC, Alan Gourgey QC and Marcia Shekerdemian QC and five juniors that departed the now-dissolved 11 Stone Buildings for Wilberforce last September.

Brick Court advertised for junior barristers earlier this summer and is expected to recruit more in the coming months.

Joint head of chambers Helen Davies QC said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Edward to Chambers, where he will add yet further depth to our existing group of very talented commercial juniors.’

The set’s latest hire is indicative of how the commercial Bar has in recent years become an increasingly competitive environment with a premier league rank of sets – comprising Brick Court, Essex Court Chambers, Fountain Court Chambers, One Essex Court and Wilberforce Chambers – holding an iron grip on referral networks from leading law firms and becoming highly attractive options for junior talent.

Other moves in recent weeks includes fellow elite set Fountain Court Chambers which enhanced its commercial offering with the recruit of silk duo, Littleton Chambers’ Stuart Ritchie QC, Serle Court Chambers’ Jonathan Adkin QC, alongside juniors, 3 Verulam Buildings’ Laura John and Erskine Chambers’ Alex Barden. The set also launched a commercial crime practice which will be headed by banking heavyweight Richard Lissack QC – who joined in May from Outer Temple Chambers – alongside newly recruited juniors Nicholas Medcroft from Wilberforce Chambers, and Outer Temple Chambers duo Robin Barclay and Eleanor Davison.

For more on the super sets at the Bar, see ‘Set in stone – testing time for mid-tier sets as elite London sets tighten their grip’


Legal Business

Brick Court hires Wilberforce Chambers rising star Newton


Leading commercial set Brick Court Chambers has made a key hire with Wilberforce Chambers’ rising star Laura Newton.

Notably Newton was part of an eight-strong team, comprising silks Lexa Hilliard QC, Alan Gourgey QC and Marcia Shekerdemian QC and five juniors that departed the now-dissolved 11 Stone Buildings for Wilberforce last September.

Recommended by The Legal 500 as a leading junior for commercial chancery and civil fraud work, Newton is regularly instructed on high-value international disputes and arbitrations.

This year she was instructed as sole counsel on a High Court dispute involving allegations of fraudulent misappropriation, a case that led to a counterclaim valued at $100m. Newton has also led on certain aspects of a $4bn Kazakh mining dispute.

In 2011 Newton was seconded to Herbert Smith Freehills’ litigation division where she worked on a number of large-scale commercial disputes, including from the firm’s Tokyo office. In May 2014, she was selected to represent the English Commercial Bar as part of the Bar Council’s delegation to South Korea and was seconded to Yoon & Yang, a Korean law firm based in Seoul.

The move is indicative of how the commercial Bar has in recent years become an increasingly competitive environment with a premier league rank of sets – comprising Brick Court, Essex Court Chambers, Fountain Court Chambers, One Essex Court and Wilberforce Chambers – holding an iron grip on referrals networks from leading law firms and subsequently posing as highly attractive, coveted options for junior talent.

Having publicly advertised for junior barristers some weeks ago, it is understood Brick Court is expected to hire more junior barristers in the coming months.

Other recent set hires of late includes One Essex Court which brought over banking heavyweight Sonia Tolaney QC from 3 Verulam Buildings (3VB) in March, alongside juniors James MacDonald and Sandy Phipps, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer disputes veteran Ian Terry is also joining as a mediator. Fountain Court Chambers also bolstered its bench of finance silks after attracting banking star Richard Lissack QC from Outer Temple Chambers, Legal Business revealed in late April.

For more on the super sets at the Bar, see ‘Set in stone – testing time for mid-tier sets as elite London sets tighten their grip’


Legal Business

Changing counsel: Clyde & Co swaps XXIV Old Buildings for Brick Court Chambers in $285m mining tussle


The bitter dispute between Zamin Ferrous, the mining company run by Indian billionaire Pramod Agarwal, and embattled natural resources group ENRC over a Brazilian mine has taken another turn with Zamin drafting in barristers from Brick Court Chambers to replace existing counsel XXIV Old Buildings.

Zamin’s solicitors, Clyde & Co, opted to change counsel, switching from Philip Shepherd QC, Bajul Shah and Erin Hitchens at XXIV Old Buildings to Neil Calver QC and Stephen Midwinter at Brick Court Chambers. Clyde & Co litigator Andrew Preston is spearheading the case for Zamin. The firm would not comment on why it decided to drop XXIV Old Buildings.

The mining company has claimed $220m from ENRC, alleging it failed to pay the final instalment for Zamin’s share in their Brazilian iron ore mine joint venture. The spat stems from a $670m deal in 2010 for ENRC to purchase the stake in the Pedra de Ferro iron ore project in Brazil that it didn’t already own.

Zamin claims that profitable extraction and a port licence triggered a $220m payment, but ENRC’s defence is that the port installation licence issued by Brazil’s federal environmental agency is illegitimate and thus the trigger for the $220m payment was never met. The case goes before the High Court in February and will test the illegality defence in English law.

ENRC which recently rebranded as Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) after being beset by corruption allegations, has filed a $65m counterclaim over repayment of a loan it paid to Zamin’s subsidiary Ardila Investments as part of the original sale.

ENRC, which is under investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office over allegations of bribery and corruption in Africa, has instructed Hogan Lovells litigation partner Richard Lewis for its legal tussle with Zamin. Stephen Smith QC of Erskine Chambers was chosen as counsel.

Legal Business

Battle Royale


Two oligarchs; $6.5bn; and enough lawyers to form an entirely new firm. This is Berezovsky v Abramovich, the largest litigation in the world

In Hermès on Sloane Street on Friday 5 October 2007 Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club, is enjoying a quiet afternoon shopping. Two doors down in Dolce & Gabbana, his former business partner is also indulging in a little retail therapy. In better days the two would visit each other’s superyachts and holiday together. But by 2007 the relationship had soured, and Berezovsky was itching to issue a writ suing his former friend for $6.5bn.