Legal Business

UK Litigation Outlook sponsored briefing: Get on board! Sea changes in civil litigation – Spring 2018

The courts are introducing innovative methods of dispute resolution to meet the growing demand from clients

The civil courts in England and Wales are experiencing unprecedented change. Lord Justice Briggs’ wholesale review of their structure1 coincided with a five-year programme to ‘deliver – through the use of modern technology, an improved estate and modernisation of current working practices – a more effective, efficient and high performing courts and tribunals administration’2. This follows Lord Justice Jackson’s sweeping reforms3, which elevated the importance of costs management and proportionality.

Legal Business

Match of the Day: Jones Day, Herbert Smith and Walker Morris score roles on Crystal Palace FC investment


Teams from Jones Day, Herbert Smith Freehills and Walker Morris have won mandates as Premier League football club Crystal Palace FC restructures in an ownership deal with US billionaires Josh Harris and David Blitzer which includes an initial £50m investment.

Crystal Palace, which is currently seventh in the Premier League and just five points behind the lucrative Champions League spots, will use the initial £50m cash injection to redevelop its stadium (pictured) in south east London. The club has assumed a general partnership structure made up of Harris, Blitzer and current chairman Steve Parish.

HSF advised the existing shareholders, including wine merchant Stephen Browett, founder of investment fund Marathon Asset Management Jeremy Hosking and Churchill Insurance founder Martin Long, on the sale of part of their stake in the club. The existing shareholders, and their investment vehicle CPFC2010, retain a stake.

Jones Day and Wall Street firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz were instructed by Americans Harris and Blitzer. Both are well known in the private equity space, with Harris one of the founders of US leveraged buyout giant Apollo Global Management and Blitzer head of head of tactical opportunities at Blackstone Group. Serial sports investors, the pair currently own the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and ice hockey team New Jersey Devils. City private equity partners at Jones Day, Raymond McKeeve and Michael Weir, led the deal in the UK for the Harris and Blitzer.

James MacArthur, head of private equity at HSF, led the legal advice for the existing shareholders. Walker Morris head of sport David Hinchliffe advised Crystal Palace FC.

Walker Morris, through Hinchliffe and his team, has experienced strong deal flow in the sports industry as overseas investors take stakes in the UK’s biggest football clubs. Recent mandates include advising a Thailand-based consortium on its takeover of Reading FC estimated to be worth around £25m.

Hinchliffe has advised Crystal Palace since it was bought out of administration in 2010 and said ‘the investment will provide valuable funds to enable the club to make long term investments in the infrastructure and give the fans the first-class facilities they deserve’.

Legal Business

Blood from a stone: Walker Morris withdraws from personal injury market as Co-op Legal announces PI job cuts


The post-Jackson reforms have claimed further victims as Leeds-based Walker Morris has announced it is to close its personal injury (PI) business, while Co-operative Legal Services has confirmed its personal insurance division is undergoing a restructuring which is likely to result in around 60 job cuts.

Around 48 staff are at risk of redundancy as a result of the closure at LB100 firm Walker Morris’ PI arm, named Distinctly Legal, with the firm blaming ‘the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) changes and the continuing turmoil in the personal injury marketplace.’

In a statement the firm said of the division, which was formerly known as WM Claims: ‘Over the last 12 months the firm has sought to refocus its personal injury business by investing in a rebrand and a “direct to market” approach.

‘The refocus has not achieved the results that we anticipated. This combined with continuing uncertainty in the market and the inevitable shift towards a more process, volume-driven approach, has led the firm to conclude that continued involvement in the PI market does not fit with its long-term strategy.’

Managing partner Ian Gilbert (pictured) added: ‘Despite having a very capable and committed team within Distinctly Legal, unfortunately the significant structural changes which have occurred in the PI market recently and those changes which we believe will occur in the future, have led us regrettably, to conclude that this is not a market in which Walker Morris can differentiate itself as well as building a strong recognisable brand. We have therefore decided to withdraw from the PI market and focus on our successful core business.’

Meanwhile, high-profile ABS Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) has also confirmed that it is to make around 60 redundancies in its 140-strong personal injury division.

A spokesperson for CLS said in a statement: ‘We have announced a restructuring of our personal injury division and a formal consultation with staff will begin in the New Year.

‘We are keen to consult with colleagues in the first instance and are unable to provide further details at this stage.’

In September, CLS posted a £3.4m loss in the for first half of 2013, with the group’s recently installed general counsel Alistair Asher telling Legal Business that CLS was still in its infancy and would flourish, provided it has the appropriate levels of investment. The loss comes despite turnover in the Co-op’s legal arm growing by 5.8% on last year to £18.1m.

Earlier this month, Clifford Chance (CC) was handed a role advising the ailing Co-operative Bank on its recapitalisation as the bank prepares to float next year. The Co-op has been in negotiations since it emerged in June that its bank had a £1.5bn capital deficit due to non-performing loans.

These latest announcements follow news last week that Bristol-based Lyons Davidson is to make around 50 redundancies, despite signing joint venture deals with the AA and Admiral – again laying the blame on the post-Jackson litigation market.