Members of our London Commercial Litigation team attended the 5th annual Legal Business Commercial Litigation Summit in London on 1 July. The conference is one of the top litigation conferences in the UK, uniting well over 100 senior practitioners and clients to discuss issues defining the modern disputes scene.
The event was hosted by Legal Business and took place at The Brewery in London.
Opening and closing remarks were provided by Fiona Gillett and Ian Gatt QC respectively. There were a number of talks throughout the day, during which industry experts shared their insights on various developments and issues reshaping the field of commercial litigation.
Julian Chamberlayne was part of a panel that discussed how data analytics are transforming disputes. Julian presented the tools available for the various stages of litigation and the importance the data collected plays in assessing cases. Grant McCaig of Phoenix Group highlighted that it is vital for those looking to take advantage of this increasingly important tool to understand the data, how it can be used and how reliable it is. It was agreed amongst the panellists that analytics can help with research aids and planning cases, however, it is not be viewed as a way to predict outcomes.
The highlight of the day was witnessing Clive Zietman, who says his hobby is litigation, lead a panel on practical strategies for avoiding litigation. The discussion mainly addressed mediation as an alternative to litigation. Andrew Miller QC of 2 Temple Gardens opened the discussion by stating that lawyers often lead clients down the litigation path when it isn’t necessarily their desire. Clients don’t always want lawyers to “fix it”, they want the status quo. According to Clive, optimism could be one of the reasons clients end up in litigation. They often enter into contracts and agreements hoping everything will go well and do not assess all potential risks.
Read more about from Clive in his introduction to the summit, which featured in The In-House Lawyer magazine here
Ian Gatt QC along with Matthew Hardwick QC of 3 Verulam Buildings and Simon Hart of RPC closed the event on the scrutiny surrounding the witness statements regime. Matthew highlighted some of the common problems with witness statements: they are too long and discursive, too argumentative and contain too much opinion evidence. Simon touched on the shift in judicial attitude where we see more appetite from judges to comment on this issue.
One of the reasons for this is the positive reception judicial criticism of witness statements has received from the lawyers drafting them. While agreeing with his fellow panellists, Ian Gatt QC suggested ways practitioners can keep the length of witness statements down. These included avoiding the repetition of background facts and making more use of the list of issues and facts on court forms. Maybe a solution to this problem might be the revamping of pre-trial review checklists or applying a limiting exercise similar to that of disclosure to witness statements.
Other panel topics on the day included:
- Courts across borders – an active dialog
- Global investigations – the transatlantic relationship
- Shots across the bows – preliminary skirmishes sweep London’s courts
- Reputation management – winning over the sceptics
- In or out? – the battle to push opt-out claims into the mainstream, and
- Traps for the unwary – legal and pitfalls in cross-border litigation.
The conference was an excellent opportunity for Stewarts’ lawyers who presented to share their insight on the latest developments in commercial litigation and for the attendees to remain abreast of the issues facing clients in this field.
This article was written by Senior Paralegal, Nathalie Moussinga
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