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Future of K&L Gates’ Warsaw office in doubt as firm enters strategic review

K&L Gates is considering closing its office in Warsaw, The Lawyer has learnt, mirroring similar strategic reviews held at other US firms with outposts in the CEE region. A management meeting is understood to have been set up for this week to discuss plans around a potential pull-out from the city. The firm declined to comment […]

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Hot 100 career quiz: DAC Beachcroft managing partner David Pollitt

Name: David Pollitt

Organisation: DAC Beachcroft

Role: Managing Partner

Trained at: Slaughter and May

Year qualified: 1993

Read his Hot 100 profile

What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?

I trained at Slaughter and May in the early 90s, straight from law school.  I was struck by how little I knew and how quickly I needed to learn, from some exceptional lawyers. Oh, and the fact that I had to work such long hours and most weekends as standard.

Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why, and how have they helped you?

I think it would have to be Tom Nelson, a Legal Executive at Slaughter and May, who was legendary for his knowledge of law and commitment to the litigation cause. I became a litigator and worked with Tom as a junior on many cases. He was formidable (frightening if you did not know him). He taught me to establish the facts as quickly as possible and until I had, not to believe anything or trust anyone. He also taught me that until I had done everything I could do to advance my case I was not free to go home.

To say Tom was old school would be to do him a dis-service. He was an exceptional lawyer and held in very high regard by the partners at Slaughters.

What was the toughest decision you’ve ever had to face in your career? How, and what, did you decide?

Probably the decision to leave a magic circle firm and join what was then a regional law firm. I wanted to feel more in control of my destiny and prove to myself that I could build a practice (as opposed to serve one).  I also had a young family so there was a lifestyle element as well. So we left London.

Now, with the same firm, I am back in London as managing partner of a Top 20 international law firm.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?

Be open about your ambitions and be prepared to open your mouth and contribute. Once you are there, the best advice I can give is to surround yourself with quality people.

What work or career-related project or activity would you really like to do, but don’t have time for?

I am a horse racing fanatic and if I had the time I would like to train some race horses. As well as not having the time, I don’t have any qualifications for this, but it remains a dream of mine.

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In Court This week: shipping, bankruptcy and injunctions from Clydes, Eversheds and BCLP

With the first half-term of the year already upon us, there comes the inevitable pause in the courts. Yet while the caseload has temporarily diminished, the intrigue involved in them has not.

One of this year’s most complex and bizarre Top 20 cases of 2019 kicks off on Monday for a 12-week Commercial Court hearing. Questions over what happened in July 2011 aboard the oil tanker Brilliante Virtuoso remain unanswered. As the ship passed through the Gulf of Aden – one of the world’s most dangerous shipping routes, passing between Yemen to the north, Djibouti to the west and Somalia to south – it was allegedly hijacked by pirates. That night, the 26-strong crew were supposedly tied up and barely escaped with their lives after a fire was started which tore through the ship. As stories go, it’s a wholly gripping one.

The dispute has arisen because Lloyd’s of London syndicate Talbot Underwriting says the story of the Brilliante Virtuoso is just that; a story.

The syndicate has claimed that the fire wasn’t the fault of menacing pirates. It points the blame squarely at the ship’s owner Marios Iliopoulos and the bank that financed him. Its counterclaim rests on alleging willful misconduct on Iliopoulos’s part, even going as far as to suggest he was in cahoots with the pirates.

In a cross-examination at the case management conference, Mr Justice Flaux heard Iliopoulos’ testimony. He was anything but convinced, strengthening the syndicate’s claims and teeing up what should be a fascinating case nicely.

For the claimants, Piraeus Bank AE, Clyde & Co partner Simon Jackson is instructing 7KBW’s Peter MacDonald Eggers QC, Richard Sarll and Tim Jenns. Norton Rose Fulbright partner Chris Zavos has the mandate for Talbot Underwriting, instructing 7KBW’s Jonathan Gaisman QC, Richard Waller QC and Keir Howie, and Quadrant Chambers’ Nichola Warrender.

Also appearing in the Commercial Court this week is Medenta v Hitachi Capital as the City sees yet more claims being brought around restrictive covenants following Tillman v Zehnder earlier this year.

Pinsent Masons partner Ravi Nayer is leading 3VB’s Peter de Verneuil Smith (soon to be a QC) and William Day against Eversheds Sutherland partner Neville Gray and 4 New Square’s Mark Cannon.

Financial adviser Medenta Finance has appealed for quia timet injunction, a more rigorous form of the standard injunction. A quia timet injunction looks to restrain wrongful acts that are on the horizon, but are yet to be committed. In this case, it concerns a dental finance broker and the convenants owed to them by Medenta. The two-day hearing has been expedited owing to a temporary injunction which is currently in place.

Meanwhile, on the Companies and Insolvency List, the Libyan Investment Authority continues to play a prominent role. On this occasion, Farrer & Co partner John Wilkinson will lead 3VB’s Jonathan Nash QC and Cleon Catsambis, who are acting for Edgeworth Capital (Luxembourg) in its case against the LIA and businessman Glenn Maud. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner partner Oran Gelb is acting for the LIA and Maud, instructing 4 Stone Buildings’ Joseph Wigley and Edward Crossley and South Square’s Stephen Robins.

The case is the result of a four-day adjourned hearing of a bankruptcy petition against Maud. Edgeworth and Maud have been at loggerheads since the latter accused the claimants of having “ulterior motives” to file a bankruptcy petition against him. He claimed it was in Edgeworth’s long-term strategy to purchase the Financial City complex in Madrid, which he owned, arguing that it became easier for the investment group to do so by bankrupting him. The hearing will now proceed this week and could be fascinating for his business if Maud fails to defend it.

At the tail-end of the week, an amount of clarity should also be given when Linklaters & Another v Mellish has a full hearing.

The Lawyer broke the news earlier this month that the magic circle firm had won an injunction against former global head of business development & marketing Frank Mellish, preventing him from publishing 11 documents. Mellish had contacted the firm’s senior management of his intentions, saying that the documents would reveal “the ongoing struggle [the firm] has with women in the workplace”.

Mr Justice Warby ordered that an injunction stay until a return hearing last month which was then extended. The firm is expected to be in court on 22 February to file its particulars of claim. After confirming that Mellish has now instructed solicitors in his native Australia, Warby J will hear from both parties on Friday. The firm Mellish has turned to remains a mystery, though his strong opposition to the injunction was made clear in his absence at the second hearing.

Linklaters global head of dispute resolution Michael Bennett has been tasked with representing his firm and has turned to One Brick Court’s Andrew Caldecott QC and Aidan Eardley.

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