Legal Business

Litigation funding: Levelling the playing field

Litigation funding: Levelling the playing field

Kobre & Kim’s Robert Henoch and Michael Ng discuss third-party financing.

Outward-facing Israeli companies often find themselves facing off against larger, deep-pocketed adversaries, such as joint venture partners, investors, distributors, customers, licensees, or those who have infringed on their intellectual property (IP) rights. When this happens, well-financed opponents can leverage the threatened expenses of the legal process in their home countries to destroy the rights of smaller Israeli companies. Third-party litigation funding offers a potential solution for Israeli companies to vindicate their legal rights under such circumstances.

Legal Business

Simmons & Simmons picked to defend RBS against £800m rate-rigging claim

Simmons & Simmons picked to defend RBS against £800m rate-rigging claim

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has instructed Simmons & Simmons to defend a £800m claim from former Sheffield lawyer turned property mogul Glenn Maud over alleged losses from Euribor rigging.

Maud launched legal action in London’s High Court over a finance package signed in 2008 to buy Spanish bank Santander’s global headquarters for £1.5bn. He purchased the property through his Spanish property vehicle Marme Inversiones and RBS led on the finance package alongside ING Bank, HSH Nordbank, Bayerische Landesbank, and Caixa D’Estalvis.

One of the biggest claims in London over Euribor rigging, Maud alleges RBS knew it was manipulating the European interest rate benchmarks and as such should be paid ‘damages for fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation or deceit’ for the interest rate swaps he entered into.

The British bank was part of a group, including Citigroup and JP Morgan, fined what was a record €1.7bn by the European Commission over the benchmark interest rate rigging cartel in late 2013.

RBS denies the allegations and has hired Simmons & Simmons partner Richard Bunce to spearhead its defence. The four other banks involved in the deal are also named as defendants in the claim and have instructed Allen & Overy partner Andrew Denny to defend them.

Bunce has instructed 3 Verulam Buildings’ Adrian Beltrami QC and Laura John as counsel, with Denny picking Fountain Court’s Tim Howe QC and Adam Sher for the other defendants.

Kobre & Kim’s founding partner Michael Kim, alongside partners Stephen Hayes, Andrew Stafford QC and Simon Cullingworth are bringing the claim for Maud. The firm has instructed 4 Stone Buildings’ Richard Hill QC and Alastair Tomson as counsel.

Simmons was recently picked by Barclays to advise on its recent Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) inquiry into deals for wealthy clients, which resulted in a £72m fine for the bank in November.

Legal Business

Asia: US firms chase disputes work as Kobre & Kim and Alston & Bird launch new offices and Reed Smith builds in Singapore

Asia: US firms chase disputes work as Kobre & Kim and Alston & Bird launch new offices and Reed Smith builds in Singapore

The past week has continued to see law firms invest in Asia with US litigation outfit Kobre & Kim chasing litigation work with a new office in Seoul, Alston & Bird targeting intellectual property (IP) mandates with its first Asian office and Reed Smith building its projects practice with a focus on disputes.

Following in the footsteps of Allen & Overy and White & Case – just two from a pack of firms that have marched into South Korea – US litigation outfit Kobre & Kim will also open its doors in Seoul and become the only foreign law firm in Korea to focus solely on disputes and investigations.

With its conflict-free model, the firm plans to continue to work with others as ‘conflict/special litigation or investigative counsel’, as well as establishing a local team that focuses on Western government investigations, and offshore litigation.

Co-founder and partner Michael Kim, who is a former US Department of Justice prosecutor fluent in Korean, will head the team that so far includes a US-qualified lawyer and a financial analyst. The firm will work closely with its US government enforcement practice, which is active in Korea-related cases.

‘In Korea, we are offering two products not available in the current market: a Seoul-based Korean fluent team focusing on US government investigations, as well as Hong Kong and offshore litigation capabilities,’ said Kim.

Also expanding is Alston & Bird – a firm that has not been deterred by China’s slowing economy from launching an office in Beijing. The new base will focus on advising Chinese companies on US IP law in federal and state courts across a range of patent, licensing and other disputes.

The new office is located in the Hanwei Office Building in Beijing’s central business district. Alston & Bird partner Yitai Hu will serve as chief representative of the new office, and work alongside IP partner Helen Su.

‘For many years, we have assisted a number of Chinese clients in the US across a broad range of services, including IP disputes, products liability litigation, cross-border M&A and international tax matters,’ said Alston & Bird managing partner Richard Hays. ‘The launch of our Beijing office recognises the importance and success of these practices by formalising a presence around practices that Alston & Bird has had for many years.’

Hu added: ‘Although IP law will be a primary focus, we will also represent Chinese companies in the US in foreign direct investment, complex litigation, international trade and other areas where Alston & Bird has marquee practices.’

Meanwhile, Reed Smith is expanding in Singapore with the hire of partners Calvin Chan and Kohe Hasan who join the firm’s energy and natural resources group, from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Oon & Bazul respectively.

Both Chan and Hasan are international commercial arbitration and disputes lawyers, with Chan having experience in Foreign Corrupt‎ Practices Act (FCPA) matters and investigations, while Hasan primarily advises clients on the acquisition and financing aspects of energy and infrastructure projects including mine acquisition, concession agreements and power generation assets. The duo’s arrival brings team headcount to 19 lawyers, including seven partners.

The firm first launched in Singapore in 2012, to support its clients in the energy and natural resources sector and has since invested in hiring talent to bulk up its offering, which included the hire of former counsel at Herbert Smith Freehills Charles Ball who joined in 2013 to head the firm’s Indonesia Group.

Gautam Bhattacharyya, Reed Smith’s Singapore office managing partner, said: ‘We have established a strong foundation in Singapore, ensuring a team with deep sector and local as well as regional market knowledge. Our‎ focus is to build upon that further and enhance our geographical reach and resources across Indonesia, the Indochina region and China. With Calvin and Kohe on board, we have an even stronger platform to do that.’

Legal Business

The Bar: Littleton Chambers QC heads to Kobre & Kim as Ince & Co partner joins Stone Chambers

The Bar: Littleton Chambers QC heads to Kobre & Kim as Ince & Co partner joins Stone Chambers

The increased fluidity between the various limbs of the legal profession has been in evidence over the past few days as offshore litigation boutique Kobre & Kim hires Littleton Chambers’ Andrew Stafford QC as a partner and high profile Ince & Co partner Jonathan Lux joins Stone Chambers, while Devereux Chambers has also announced the arrival of tax specialist Jolyon Maugham from 11 New Square. Stafford QC, who becomes Kobre’s third QC appointment, specialises in commercial litigation, with a particular emphasis on financial services, pensions and employment related disputes.He joins James Corbett QC (formerly of Serle Court) and Jalil Asif QC (formerly of 4 New Square). He remains an associate door tenant at the 51-barrister Temple set.

Littleton recently appointed a successor to co-head the set following former leader Clive Freedman QC’s decision to stand down, with John Bowers QC serving as joint head of chambers alongside Andrew Clarke QC.

Elsewhere, Lux leaves Ince & Co after 30 years, but will continue his practice as an international commercial mediator and arbitrator from Stone Chambers as an associate member. In addition, he will also accept work as counsel from November.

Lux is one of the founder members of CEDR and co-author of ADR and Commercial Disputes. In December 2011 he featured in Lloyd’s List of top ten legal Personalities.

Maugham meanwhile, brings to Devereux Chambers a predominately litigation-based practice in the fields of direct and indirect tax, focusing on areas including employment taxation, ‘scheme’ transactions, and film financing.

Head of chambers Ingrid Simler QC said: ‘We are very pleased that Jolyon is able to join us. He is a valuable addition to our established tax team and will add to what chambers can offer in tax and other financial and commercial work.’

Maugham added that the move to the set ‘is an excellent base from which to develop my practice, acting for both taxpayers and HMRC.’

The moves come as Brick Court Chambers is both celebrating and commiserating the appointment of joint head of chambers Nicholas Green QC to the High Court as a judge. He will sit as a judge of the Queen’s Bench Division from 1 October.

Jonathan Hirst QC said: ‘He will be missed as a joint head of chambers, but more importantly as a great colleague.’

See the October issue of Legal Business for an extensive insight into the barrister-clerk relationship.