1. Growth in civil fraud claims  No sector or industry has been unaffected by the global pandemic, and with it have come opportunities for fraud to be carried out. We saw an increase last year in civil fraud claims, and we expect that to continue over the coming year and beyond – businesses and individuals are increasingly active in investigating suspicious activity, and prepared to make use of the tools offered by the UK Courts, including worldwide freezing orders, search and seizure orders and delivery up and disclosure orders.
  2. Expected claims against directors and unfair prejudice  Changes to audit rules, corporate governance and directors’ duties are on the horizon as a result of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s White Paper on audit and corporate governance reform, “Restoring Trust in Audit and Corporate Governance”. Details of the proposals are expected imminently – during the consultation period, businesses and industry bodies expressed concern over the cost of the reforms and their potential effect on the economy, and it is likely that the proposals set out in the White Paper will be watered down. In any event, directors of companies caught by the new rules should expect more regulation and scrutiny, and a commensurate increase in the risk of claims against them.Many shareholders continue to take a keen interest in how companies in which they are invested are run, and are increasingly prepared to take action if they consider their investment to be prejudiced in any way. Directors need to ensure they understand the scope of their duties, and the risks of getting it wrong. The growth in litigation funding means it is often easier for claimants to obtain third party financial backing to pursue claims.
  3. Rising number of breach of warranty claims – With M&A activity increasing, breach of warranty claims are on the increase, and with that dispute resolution clauses and notification provisions of the transactional documents are being scrutinised. There is a risk of these clauses being treated as an afterthought in corporate transactions – the caselaw shows the risks of this approach.
  4. Increase in Insolvency claims – The ongoing pandemic continues to put pressure on businesses yet the packages of support from the UK government are drying up. Following a long covid-related hiatus, company statutory demands are back in creditors’ arsenals, but with increased protection for debtors, e.g. creditors cannot present a winding up petition unless the lower limit of the debt is at least £10,000 (up from £750), if it is for commercial rent unpaid because of the pandemic or without written notice to the debtor. Directors will need advice to understand fully their legal obligations to manage the company’s financial position properly (and to know where they stand in relation to any personal guarantees), so as not to commit offences or expose themselves to claims under the Insolvency Act such as wrongful trading which is now back in play after the covid-related suspension came to an end in July 2021.
  5. Increased use of remote hearings and litigation technology – Tech is transforming the way in which litigation operates, from remote hearings to computer-assisted document review. The UK’s High Court has demonstrated that, despite the pandemic, it is very much open for business, including for applications in support of proceedings in other jurisdictions. Technology has enabled hearings to proceed (our team successfully defended a party in a three month fully virtual civil fraud trial, with witnesses giving evidence in a number of languages and timezones) and for clients, witnesses and experts to “attend” Court without the cost and risk of travel. Judges have discretion over how a hearing should take place, but the default position for the Business Courts is now that hearings of under half a day will be virtual. In the current covid climate, we expect demand for remote hearings to remain high.
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Kathryn Garbett

Kathryn Garbett, Co-Chair of the London Civil Fraud & Business Disputes Practice, focuses her commercial litigation practice on matters related to civil fraud. Kathryn has been involved in some of the most high-profile commercial fraud cases before the Supreme Court in recent times.

Kathryn Garbett, Co-Chair of the London Civil Fraud & Business Disputes Practice, focuses her commercial litigation practice on matters related to civil fraud. Kathryn has been involved in some of the most high-profile commercial fraud cases before the Supreme Court in recent times. Kathryn has a practical and sensible approach and tailors her advice and support to help clients navigate extremely complex legal and factual issues.

Kathryn regularly manages highly sensitive matters spanning multiple jurisdictions, often leading teams of international lawyers and professionals. She offers strategic advice to clients facing a civil claim while simultaneously being investigated by prosecution agencies, employers, the Inland Revenue, and both UK and foreign regulators. She is praised by Chambers & Partners as “a very impressive operator and an astute solicitor” for her ability to provide “experienced guidance in hugely complex matters combined with a fine tactical overview.” Kathryn is also listed as a Leading Individual for civil fraud in Legal 500.

Claire Broadbelt

Claire Broadbelt, Co-Chair of the London Civil Fraud & Business Disputes Practice, represents clients on multi-jurisdictional civil fraud matters, both pursuing and defending complex claims. Her cases (which have included some of the highest value cases ever before the English High Court) often…

Claire Broadbelt, Co-Chair of the London Civil Fraud & Business Disputes Practice, represents clients on multi-jurisdictional civil fraud matters, both pursuing and defending complex claims. Her cases (which have included some of the highest value cases ever before the English High Court) often involve serious allegations of fraud or misconduct, including the diversion of business opportunities, claims of deceit, breach of confidence, breaches of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, bribery, and secret profits. She regularly handles matters which include worldwide asset-tracing and recovery, freezing and search orders, and other associated injunctions. She advises clients across a wide range of sectors including banking and finance, commodities trading, IT, retail, and property.

Martin Shobbrook

Martin Shobbrook has spent his entire legal career focusing on matters related to civil fraud, representing claimants or defendants in substantial cases. His clients include private individuals, companies and trusts and state Governments. For claimants, his experience lies in multi-jurisdictional asset-tracing enquiries often…

Martin Shobbrook has spent his entire legal career focusing on matters related to civil fraud, representing claimants or defendants in substantial cases. His clients include private individuals, companies and trusts and state Governments. For claimants, his experience lies in multi-jurisdictional asset-tracing enquiries often involving Court applications in multiple overseas jurisdictions. His defense work frequently involves high-profile civil proceedings where the defendant is also under investigation by criminal, tax, and other regulatory authorities in the UK or overseas. Noting that fraud does not respect international borders, Martin has considerable experience (drawn from acting for both claimants and defendants) in working with lawyers in several jurisdictions at the same time and is particularly adept at devising and executing strategies across a wide number of jurisdictions at the same time.

Hannah Blom-Cooper

Hannah is a highly experienced commercial litigator representing individuals and corporations in relation to high-value and complex disputes which frequently involve multiple jurisdictions.

Hannah focuses in the area of disputes arising from business failure and formal insolvency process whether domestic or foreign. Hannah…

Hannah is a highly experienced commercial litigator representing individuals and corporations in relation to high-value and complex disputes which frequently involve multiple jurisdictions.

Hannah focuses in the area of disputes arising from business failure and formal insolvency process whether domestic or foreign. Hannah also provides clear and practical advice on asset recovery and asset protection both for creditors and debtors.

Hannah frequently acts for directors in the context of delinquent businesses where serious allegations of fraud and misconduct are made by the company, shareholders, creditors or an office holder –these will include claims for wrongful or fraudulent trading or disqualification proceedings. Hannah also acts for insolvency practitioners, both pre- and post-appointment, bankrupts, and companies subject to debt recovery.

Hannah is a highly experienced commercial litigator representing individuals and corporations in relation to high-value and complex disputes which frequently involve multiple jurisdictions.

Hannah focuses in the area of disputes arising from business failure and formal insolvency process whether domestic or foreign. Hannah also provides clear and practical advice on asset recovery and asset protection both for creditors and debtors.

Hannah frequently acts for directors in the context of delinquent businesses where serious allegations of fraud and misconduct are made by the company, shareholders, creditors or an office holder –these will include claims for wrongful or fraudulent trading or disqualification proceedings. Hannah also acts for insolvency practitioners, both pre- and post-appointment, bankrupts, and companies subject to debt recovery.

Annabel Thomas

Annabel Thomas is an experienced commercial litigator with a strong background in corporate disputes and civil fraud. She represents clients on matters involving asset-tracing and injunctive relief; partnership disputes; competition law; and regulatory/disciplinary litigation. She also handles company and shareholder disputes (including unfair…

Annabel Thomas is an experienced commercial litigator with a strong background in corporate disputes and civil fraud. She represents clients on matters involving asset-tracing and injunctive relief; partnership disputes; competition law; and regulatory/disciplinary litigation. She also handles company and shareholder disputes (including unfair prejudice claims, breach of directors’ duties, JV disputes, LLP disputes and breach of warranty and indemnity claims), as well as insurance disputes (including coverage, subrogated recovery and brokers’ negligence). Annabel’s practice covers litigation in the high court, as well as arbitral proceedings. She is experienced in both defending and bringing claims, often involving multiple jurisdictions and applications for interim relief, including freezing injunctions, search & seizure orders, disclosure orders and security for costs.