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Commercial Litigation

Ranked by the Legal 500 as a leading firm for commercial litigation, PCB handles a broad range of commercial litigation, ranging from disputes of a few hundred thousand pounds to many hundreds of millions. What distinguishes us from our competitors is the hands-on approach of our highly-regarded and experienced partners. When you have a problem, you want us to be the ones trying to find the solution.

EXPERIENCE

We acted in a case named in The Lawyer as one of the top 20 litigation cases of 2014 and 2015, a case that was considered the biggest Commercial Court trial of 2015. We have also acted in other very substantial Commercial Court cases as well as some of the biggest Chancery Division cases in recent years.

Most of our cases are international in scope, where main or ancillary proceedings may be taking place in other jurisdictions, or where issues of jurisdiction or the application of foreign law arise. Claims that PCB have been involved in include:

  • Breach of contract

  • Duress, undue influence and unconscionable bargain

  • Estoppel

  • Mistake

  • Misrepresentations and breaches of warranty

  • Misuse of confidential information and copyright infringement

See also our page on fraud in respect of those claims where there has been serious wrongdoing, as well as our pages on banking litigation, company and joint venture disputes, professional negligence and insolvency, which cover other types of commercial disputes.

Selected Case Summaries

PCB acted for the third defendant in successfully obtaining security for costs in relation to this multi-million dollar dispute. The Claimant was resident in Russia and there was evidence before the Court as to the difficulties in enforcing an English costs order in Russia. The Court considered that the correct approach was to make a single order of a substantial amount of security to reflect the real (but small) risk of non-enforcement and greater (but less financially extensive) risk of increased cost and delay. That meant that the defendants would be covered for the financial risk of the more likely aspects of increased cost and delay. There would not be full security in respect of the costs of the action, but the amount ordered would go some way to covering and guarding against the risk of non-enforcement.

PCB acted for the 9th to 42nd respondents in this €1bn claim brought by the liquidators of a Greek Telecommunications company against private equity interests under s423 of the Insolvency Act 1986. The litigation had originally been brought in the US, but was stayed on forum grounds at a relatively late stage in favour of England. The consequence was that at an early stage of the English proceedings, the parties agreed that the disclosure given in the US proceedings should stand as disclosure in the English proceedings. Subsequently, the liquidators sought that the respondents should undertake additional searches for documents. However, in view of the agreement previously reached, the evidence as to the careful steps taken in the US proceedings to ensure appropriate searches were undertaken for documents and the lack of any evidence that there were missing documents likely to be found, the Court declined the liquidators’ application.

PCB acted for the defendant in proceedings brought against him and a BVI company in which he was the sole shareholder, alleging breach of contract in failing to issue shares in the BVI company to the claimants and seeking rectification of the share register. PCB successfully challenged the jurisdiction of the BVI Court at first instance. When this was overturned on appeal, PCB persuaded the Privy Council to grant permission to appeal and succeeded on that appeal. The Privy Council declined to follow the English Court of Appeal authority on which the Claimants relied in holding that the procedure for rectification of a company’s share register did not enable the court to determine prior questions of contractual obligations in respect of the issue of those shares. Accordingly, there was no rectification claim against the company to which its shareholder could be joined as a necessary or proper party. Further, the Privy Council held that the fact that the dispute was about shares in a BVI company did not make the BVI the appropriate forum to hear the dispute.

PCB acted for the claimant casino in obtaining judgment for dishonoured cheques and resisting the defendant’s multi-million pound counterclaim. The defendant alleged that he had a gambling problem that the casino was aware of and that he should have been excluded from the casino. The Court rejected his evidence at trial and found in favour of PCB’s client on the proper construction of the Gambling Commission’s codes of practice.

PCB acted for the claimants in obtaining permission to serve the proceedings alleging deceit, conspiracy and dishonest assistance on the defendant out of the jurisdiction. The defendant challenged the jurisdiction, alleging that he was not properly served, that England was not the appropriate forum and that there was no reasonable prospect of the claim succeeding. All of those arguments were rejected by the High Court. On appeal, the Court of Appeal rejected the forum argument but set aside service on the basis that the defendant had not been properly served and it was not appropriate for service to be validated retrospectively. PCB persuaded the Supreme Court that the case raised issues of general public importance such that permission to appeal should be granted, before ultimately winning the appeal. This is now the leading case on alternative service out of the jurisdiction.

PCB acted for the respondent director of a BVI company. Proceedings in the BVI in respect of ownership of shares in the company were ongoing, the director being based in England. The Claimants sought to obtain an injunction against the defendant under s25 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 in support of the BVI proceedings to prevent him from permitting expenditure by the company on the BVI litigation (to which it was a party). PCB successfully opposed the grant of such relief on the basis that there was no substantive claim alleging wrongdoing in respect of that expenditure, that there was no threat that required the grant of injunctive relief, damages would be an adequate remedy and were such relief to be granted it could obstruct or hamper the management of the case by the BVI Court.

PCB acted for the claimants in a US$25m claim against a city firm of lawyers alleging professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. PCB made an application for extensive electronic disclosure at a time when there was little case law as to when electronic disclosure should be provided. The defendant solicitors alleged that all electronic communications would have been printed and put into hard copy files and that the costs of restoring back-up tapes would be substantial, making the exercise wholly disproportionate. PCB was however able to persuade the court that some electronic searches should be undertaken, which ultimately led to critical evidence being uncovered.

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