How I can assist you
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I act for clients in partnership, LLP member, shareholder/boardroom and joint venture dispute matters, either
- advising, negotiating, mediating or (if required) litigating (in court and in arbitrations),
- in many cases settling, and
- (where I am acting for claimants) pursuing financial recoveries or other desired outcomes, or
- (when acting for defendants) defending unmeritorious claims.
Typical scenarios that I deal with include contentious retirements/exits, boardroom disputes, conduct unfairly prejudicial to minority shareholders or LLP members, disputes over accounts or the ownership of a business or some of its assets, fraud, secret profits, misappropriation of clients and business opportunities, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of covenant, discrimination, and part-time worker and whistleblower detriment.
Normally during the course of the initial call the key issue or issues can be identified and I can begin to give you some idea as to where you may stand legally. While what we discuss during the initial call should not be regarded as definitive advice and should not be relied upon as such, it is always a useful starting point and may equip you to begin to consider:
- the most important aspects and what your objectives are,
- avoiding immediate conduct or outcomes that may be disadvantageous to you,
- the immediate steps that you might take that may be advantageous to you, and
- collecting or collating relevant further information to enable me to advise you.
At this point I may also be able to give you a tentative estimate for the initial work that you may wish me to carry out, subject to possible modification when I see the relevant documentation.
Should you decide to proceed, I will normally ask you to let me have copies of the relevant documentation, to give me a better understanding of what the case is about and the precise facts. I will also prepare a Keystone Law retainer letter for you to sign.
Once I am retained via Keystone Law, the first consideration is almost always how the difficulty you are facing can be resolved in the least amount of time and with the lowest possible financial outlay. This requires an understanding of the relevant facts. It is usually advantageous to identify the strengths and weaknesses of both sides and to focus on how you might be able to bring pressure to bear on your opponent(s) by attacking their weak points and/or taking advantage of concerns that they may have and/or what is most important to them.
Very often disputes can be resolved through discussion. In many cases an opponent does not even find out that I have been instructed. I can work behind the scenes, acting as a sounding board for you and usually advising you what your next step(s) ought to be and/or assisting you by drafting or reviewing proposed correspondence with your opponent(s).
But if between us we decide at any stage that a communication direct from me may assist to break a deadlock, then of course I can emerge from the shadows.
What happens after that will depend on many different factors, including the attitude of both sides to settlement, and how they each perceive the strength of their case. At every stage the aim is to ensure that your opponent has a full understanding of the reality of their situation and why it would be better for them to settle the dispute. Equally it is important for you to have that clarity. As the matter proceeds we will at each stage consider your opponent(s) responses, to enable you to review not only the potential benefits of proceeding to press your claim or defence, but also the risks involved in doing so, and to decide whether settling on particular terms will or will not be likely to be the most advantageous course of action for you.
Most of my clients’ cases settle in the early stages, either in the course of further discussion between my client(s) and their opponent(s) or after correspondence between solicitors.
The minority of cases that do not settle in that way sometimes go on to be resolved through mediation. Only very rarely does a case proceed to litigation (or arbitration). Over my many years of practice I have had considerable experience where necessary of pursuing or defending cases before the courts or an arbitrator, and can act for you and advise and assist you at every stage of that process if required. Even in this context I will always be seeking out and advising you on ways and means to resolve your dispute well before trial.
Keystone Law is a top 100 law firm, with an experienced and highly competent litigation support team. In the event that litigation or arbitration has to be pursued or defended rigorously, I can bring to bear as much manpower as may be required to pursue the resolution of your dispute expertly and efficiently.
The firm’s offices are a short distance away from all of London’s major courts and arbitration facilities.
Some disputes involve issues and considerations on which advice is required from lawyers in more than one or two specialist fields. In such cases, I can access the knowledge and experience of other Keystone lawyers, for example in the areas of tax, property or employment law, to name but a few. I regularly work in teams with colleagues in this way, as required.
Should your case require the services of a barrister (a specialist advocate) I have close working relationships with many of the UK’s leading barristers operating in this specialist area.
Even if a matter does not proceed to litigation or arbitration, it is always as well to conduct even the very early correspondence on the assumption that one day a judge or arbitrator may read what passes between the parties. The law reports are littered with examples of ill-judged early correspondence having an adverse effect on the ultimate outcome of the case.
Maintaining the discipline of careful consideration of what is written throughout a correspondence has a secondary benefit. Opponents will see or be advised that you are laying the ground for litigation, with a view to maximising your chances of success on the various issues, and of obtaining a costs order against your opponent. Often such a realisation can influence an opponent’s decision at any given stage as to whether to settle the case rather than fight on.
Partnership, LLP member and shareholder agreements
During the course of my dispute work I have considered countless such agreements, and have advised on their strengths and weaknesses (either how to enforce them or what the loopholes or weaknesses may be). This experience stands me in good stead when I am drafting or updating agreements.
Many agreements I see are very well drafted, others are appalling. There is a lesson to be learnt from every such agreement, whether how to improve the already excellent or adapt it to a new situation, how to avoid pitfalls and problems, or how to rescue a desperately bad and inherently dangerous agreement.
Most businessmen do not have a full understanding of the importance of having a suitable agreement in place to govern the relationship between the owners of the business, or what the agreement should cover.
The starting point in any drafting exercise is clarity as to what the objectives or desired outcomes are in a range of different scenarios (such as bringing in new participants, a sale of the business, retirement, sickness, death, misconduct, and disputes) and an understanding of what can (and often does) go wrong unless the agreement contains appropriate provisions.
I can assist you to learn what your agreement should contain, and to draft or update your agreement for you.
Sales, purchases, mergers and LLP conversions
Just as with any other agreement, it is important to ensure that all terms are stated with clarity and that potential risks arising from the transaction are understood, allocated appropriately, or avoided altogether.
Transactions are often quite complex, involving a number of different areas of law. If required, in order to supplement my own expertise, I have full access to the skills and experience of the over 350 lawyers at Keystone Law. I am able to assemble a team of suitable lawyers to cover almost any specialist area as required by any particular transaction, including specialist employment, property, tax, and pensions lawyers, and lawyers who have particular insights and experience in a wide variety of business sectors.
The type of clients I act for
My clients come from a variety of business sectors across the whole of England and Wales, including, for example, most of the professions (among them solicitors and accountants, from two-man businesses to the Magic Circle/Big Four), private equity/alternative investment, investment management, IT, property investment/development, leisure, care homes and farming.
I also act for non-UK individuals, either with business interests in England and Wales, or whose business dispute is governed by English law and/or subject to English court or arbitral jurisdiction.
What my clients all tend to have in common is that they need specialist advice arising from the fact that they are current, prospective or former business co-owners.
Typically my clients fall into one or more of the following categories, namely they are:
- seeking to put in place or update an agreement to govern their relationship, or to terminate that relationship, or
- wishing to carry out a transaction usually involving the transfer of their business or part of it to others, or into a new trading entity, or
- wishing to acquire a business from others, or
- in dispute with one or more or all of their (current or former) co-owners, or
- claiming to be entitled to an ownership share which is being denied to them, or to receive proper payment for their share.
How I work with clients
Some clients only need a few hours’ advice, perhaps to enable them to understand their situation or be advised on an agreement that they may have been asked to sign, or to be advised on their strategy for exiting a business in which they no longer wish to be involved.
Other clients may need more than a few hours’ assistance, but may tap in to my advice from time to time as required, perhaps by way of occasional email advice or telephone calls during the course of a long-running situation, difference or dispute.
In other cases I may become more deeply and intensely involved in the resolution of a client’s dispute, or in dealing with their transaction. In such cases my client(s) and I may communicate as often as several times a day during critical phases, with the work spanning a wide variety of different periods, anything from a week up to (rarely in the case of some disputes) several years.
These are just some examples. I can assist you in whatever manner works for you, and over whatever timescale is required.
My work for clients often begins with a telephone call.
Please feel free to telephone me at Keystone Law Limited on 020 7100 7766 to enable me to understand what your problems, issues, objectives or requirements are, and to discuss how I might be able to assist you.
This initial discussion is confidential and entirely without any obligation on your part to instruct me to act for you.
You will only be charged for the time involved if you subsequently enter into a written retainer agreement concerning the matter with Keystone Law.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.