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Our approach

When conversation turns into conflict, you need a legal team with the experience and expertise to protect your interests and achieve swift, commercially realistic results in the most cost efficient and risk free manner possible.

Clients ranging from individuals and entrepreneurs to corporations and multi-national organisations trust our commercial litigation lawyers, based in Kent, to deliver results for them in even the most complex of cases. We make it a point to get to know our clients, to understand their objectives thoroughly, provide clear advice and commercially minded recommendations in plain English, and to make ourselves available whenever and wherever our clients need us.

Our commercial litigation lawyers specialise in helping settle disputes using mediation, arbitration and other ADR approaches, but are equally skilled and experienced in fighting our clients’ corner in court where necessary. We can also offer risk management and litigation avoidance advice, to help stop issues developing into full disputes.

The team are excellent - they are always attuned to the commercial goals a client is seeking to achieve and are therefore pragmatic in their advice.

Commercial & international disputes

Our focus is to deliver a fast, cost effective solution that minimises risk and disruption, whilst delivering the best possible commercial result.

We realise that effective dispute resolution means we need to work with our clients to do more than advise on the law. We are astute, pragmatic and imaginative in providing outcomes which are most suited to our clients’ commercial objectives, using the most appropriate forum.

Our dispute resolution lawyers, based in Kent, with clients nationally, has expertise in dealing with disputes which are the subject of litigation in the courts of England and Wales, and in other jurisdictions by working with local lawyers, overseas. Our expertise extends to advising on and representing our clients in relation to alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, expert determination, or without prejudice negotiations.

We have an established and comprehensive network of law firms, experts and contacts across the globe allowing us to respond quickly to whatever issues you might have in any jurisdiction, ensuring that your interests are fully protected.

Our particular areas of expertise include:

  • Domestic and international contract disputes, including claims for breach of contract, and disputes relating to the termination, variation or interpretation of contracts
  • International trade & commodity disputes
  • Insurance disputes, including general insurance & maritime insurance
  • The sale & supply of goods, including industrial plant and machinery
  • Transport, logistics & warehousing
  • Disputes arising from corporate transactions including mergers, acquisitions & disposals
  • Domestic & international gaming disputes
  • Applying for or opposing urgent injunction applications
  • Regulatory disputes involving financial services, education and charity law
  • Claims arising from the mis-selling of financial products
  • Litigation avoidance strategies, mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

The firm has provided me with the highest level of legal support with their staff having some of the best legal minds in the country. This thought has been confirmed by other sources in the legal profession. Combined with the personalities of all of the people I have met at the firm, this has exceeded my expectations in terms of the level of service. A company I can highly recommend and even more so of Douglas Skilton, partner.

Construction disputes

Our highly experienced construction lawyers use their considerable knowledge of the construction sector and modern dispute resolution methods to resolve construction disputes cost effectively and at an early stage.

We deal with all stages of construction disputes from initial advisory work and input on ongoing commercial negotiations on live projects through to complex adjudications and multi-party claims in the High Court’s Technology & Construction Court (TCC).

We have considerable experience in devising and implementing effective strategies to resolve disputes at an early stage, and regularly resolve complex disputes by way of negotiation or mediation.

As well as being an experienced negotiators, our specialists represent parties in adjudications and claims in the TCC, where they have particular experience in dealing with claims involving insolvency issues, complex professional negligence claims arising from design failings, and claims against insurers.

Where formal legal processes are required, we minimise the disruption, ensure their cost-effectiveness and get you the best commercial result.

The vast majority of construction disputes can be resolved at an early stage without recourse to formal legal processes. But only if they’re tackled before they have escalated or had a knock-on effect on other aspects of the project. A call to one of our construction lawyers early on can avoid relationships deteriorating and costs escalating, resulting in enormous damage to the project.

We identify the most appropriate way of tackling the construction dispute. Our aim is to contain its scope and minimise its impact on the project and your business. We adopt an entirely bespoke approach, recognising that the dynamics of each project and those involved can vary.

Where appropriate, we work closely with our network of leading experts on liability/technical issues, delay analysts, quantum experts and leading construction barristers in order to put together a formidable team to suit your dispute.

Our construction dispute resolution services include:

  • Acting on disputes concerning defective works, design issues, disputed valuations / final account, interim payment disputes, non-payment, extensions of time, loss and expense, termination and insolvency issues
  • Settlement of the vast majority of matters at an early stage through negotiations, settlement meetings, mediation, and expert determination (Alternative Dispute Resolution)
  • Settlements involving substantial re-negotiation of live construction contracts and/or in bringing projects to a point where there can be an orderly handover to a replacement contractor
  • Adjudication – bringing or defending “slam dunk” interim payment disputes, final account disputes, substantive disputes, serial adjudications, and adjudication enforcement proceedings in the TCC.
  • “Adjudication lite” – where we work with your in-house team, check the papers prepared by them, give our objective view from the adjudicator’s perspective and deal with any legal and procedural issues arising
  • Claims in the Technology & Construction Court, with considerable experience in multi-party construction disputes involving insolvency issues, complex professional negligence claims arising from design failings, and claims against insurers
  • Construction arbitrations.

International arbitration

We have significant arbitration experience and expertise in both ad hoc and institutional arbitrations pursuant to the rules of:

  • The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA)
  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
  • London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA).

We also have extensive experience of working with trade bodies such as:

  • The Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA)
  • The Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Association (FOSFA)
  • London Metal Exchange (LME).

Our experts regularly assist with complex, cross border arbitration and we have links with specialist experts across the globe.

Recent examples include:

  • Acting on behalf of buyers and sellers in numerous high-value GAFTA and FOSFA arbitrations
  • Acting for an international mining company in multi-million dollar dispute arising from non-payment for a shipment of coal. LCIA arbitration
  • Acting for a defendant in a complex dispute arising from the sale of steel mills in Russia. Claimants seeking USD 69 million in repayments of funds invested in the mills. Contracts subject to English law and Swiss Rules of arbitration.

James is very strong in delivering high-quality client service, responsiveness and procedural mastery but also displays very strong legal and tactical awareness.

Director, shareholder, company & partnership disputes

Individuals falling out in business is not uncommon, but it can have severe consequences for the organisation in question. Disputes between company directors, shareholders and partners can arise for a variety of reasons. Our expert dispute lawyers work with clients including shareholders, directors, partners and companies, taking a bespoke approach to understanding their specific issues so that we can resolve them in the quickest, least stressful and most cost effective way.

We combine deep legal expertise with commercial acumen to support clients in a wide range of disputes, including:

  • Unfair prejudice petitions for and against minority shareholders
  • Acting for shareholders in relation to breaches of shareholder agreements
  • Bringing and defending derivative actions
  • Earn out disputes
  • Acting on behalf of shareholders to enforce their rights to purchase or sell shares under sale and purchase agreements
  • Breach of fiduciary duty claims for and against directors, partners and LLP members
  • Fraud related disputes for and against directors, partners and LLP members
  • Director misfeasance claims
  • Acting on behalf of directors defending disqualification proceedings.

Ideally, any disputes should be dealt with by discussion and consensual resolution between the parties. To avoid the extensive time and cost of court proceedings, we will always attempt to resolve disputes through mediation or another ADR method. However, where this proves not to be possible, other options for seeking remedy and intervention from the Courts may need to be identified.

Douglas Skilton's manner is such that it makes a difficult and somewhat unpleasant matter a far more tolerable experience. His quiet confidence is always reassuring.

Insolvency & restructuring

Our specialist lawyers provide advice and assistance to insolvency practitioners, companies or individuals.

We can help companies and individuals bring or defend insolvency proceedings and related claims. We have close relationships with specialist insolvency practitioners and together we can advise you on the most appropriate way forward.

Restructuring expertise

With sound planning and pragmatic commercial advice, you can take the necessary steps to help you or your business. By working closely with financial advisers and tax specialists, we can advise on a number of different restructuring options including:

  • Group reorganisation
  • Demerger
  • Pre-pack sale
  • Administration
  • Liquidation.

Our advice extends to personal assistance to directors on their duties in the context of an insolvent company. We can also advise you on the acquisition of some or all of the business of an insolvent company.

Insolvency expertise

We advise and assist creditors to achieve the maximum recovery from debtors who may be facing insolvency and to recover any goods protected by retention of title clauses.

We can assist insolvency practitioners with investigations, tracing recovery of book-debts and realisation of assets.

We regularly appear in the Bankruptcy and Companies Court in relation to:

  • The issue and defence of winding-up and bankruptcy petitions
  • Applications arising under Sections 127, 212, 214, 216 and 238 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (validation orders, directors’ misfeasance, wrongful trading, re-use of company names and transactions at an undervalue)
  • Pursuing and defending claims arising from Part 23 of the Companies Act 2006 (unlawful distribution of dividends)
  • Applications to annul bankruptcy orders.

We are also able to draw on the expertise of our Real Estates Disputes team.

I am very happy and grateful with the service you have provided and of the course the successful outcome you achieved. It has been a pleasure working with you all, and we are extremely grateful for your hard work in bringing this matter to a successful conclusion.

Civil fraud & asset recovery

Our expert lawyers can advise on a wide range of fraud, recovery and enforcement related work.

We regularly advise owner-managed or medium sized businesses, company directors, trustees, investors, individuals and insolvency practitioners.

The financial and reputational cost to businesses and individuals that have been defrauded, or are alleged to have committed a fraud, can be equally devastating.

Our team of commercial litigation lawyers is experienced at helping to bring, or defend, claims involving civil or commercial fraud.

We have expertise in:

  • Claims that involve allegations of dishonesty and deceit, secret profits, conspiracy, misfeasance, misrepresentation
  • Breaches of trust or fiduciary duty and misappropriation of assets
  • Claims against third parties who have assisted or benefitted from fraud
  • Considering the impact of insolvency on commercial fraud and assisting insolvency practitioners to unravel transactions designed to defraud creditors.

Our team can help with all stages of advice and representation, from the initial advice on becoming aware of an issue, tracing, acting to obtain urgent freezing injunctions, search and disclosure orders, through to preparation for trial and enforcement.

I've always found them to produce an extremely high-level quality of work, and they're very sound decision-makers.

Reputation management, defamation & privacy disputes

Intelligent and innovative advice in all areas of media and reputation management, including defamation, malicious falsehood, harassment, blackmail, data protection, misuse of private information and cyber security, to protect one of the most important assets – your reputation.

Our team of expert litigators help individuals and organisations who are faced with reputation management, privacy and media law issues.

Sadly, a reputation which has taken years to build up, can be irreversibly damaged in moments, by adverse and intrusive online or social media activity.

Taking a common sense yet innovative approach, our tenacious lawyers act quickly to help protect our clients’ reputations, aiming wherever possible to rapidly shut down any threats from traditional or social media sources. We have an impressive track record of advising organisations, high net worth individuals, celebrities and those in the public eye.

Our team can help with all stages of advice and representation, to consider the options on becoming aware of a defamatory statement and/or act of harassment/blackmail, from sending/responding to a letter of claim or a cease and desist letter, acting to obtain/resist an urgent injunction application, through to pursuing a claim to trial and dealing with any subsequent enforcement action.

Defamation and malicious falsehood claims, unfortunately, often emanate from competitors, ex-partners, disgruntled employees or ex-employees and anonymous web users who resort to making defamatory statements that causes damage to reputations. Our clients, therefore, sometimes also require the help of our family and/or employment teams. We work closely with our colleagues across the firm to deliver a seamless service across these practice areas.

The law relating to defamation is complex, highly nuanced and is constantly changing, especially to keep up with the continuously developing world of social media. It is, therefore, recommended that formal legal advice from a lawyer with expertise in this area of law is obtained as early as possible.

Our expertise includes:

  • Pre and post publication advice
  • Defamation (libel and slander) – for both claimant and defendant
  • Malicious falsehood
  • Privacy and misuse of private information
  • Injunctions
  • Harassment and blackmail
  • Online reputation management
  • Cyber security and data protection (including GDPR, ‘right to be forgotten’ SARs and IP).

Intellectual Property (IP), passing off, confidential information & IT disputes

Immeasurable damage can be caused by others stealing or copying brand names, inventions, designs, products, text, images, software source code, trade secrets and confidential information. Taking swift, decisive action in the event of an actual, or threatened infringement, is key to effective enforcement.

Equally, if you are faced with a claim for alleged infringement of another business’ intellectual property rights, it is very important to act quickly to assess your options and the grounds for defending the claim.

In either case you need up-to-date legal advice relating to intellectual property rights combined with a capacity to understand quickly the echnical detail and the ability to react speedily and objectively. There is also a need to understand the wider commercial picture. These are the strengths which we bring to such situations.

We have specialist expertise in acting for businesses and individuals in:

  • Copyright, design right, trade mark infringements
  • Passing off, domain name, trade secret, breach of confidence and other IT related disputes
  • We work closely with colleagues in our Corporate & Commercial team both when they are advising on transactions, the exploitation of IP rights, and when we are putting into effect settlements of IP cases.

Thank you very much for your outstanding work on the case, you have really made a very stressful situation run as smoothly as possible. I really appreciate your expert advice and direction on the matter and cannot praise your commitment to the case high enough. 

High value debt recovery

Our team has an outstanding reputation for providing pragmatic and commercial advice in relation to high-value business commercial debt collection for large corporates. We act for a wide range of businesses in the manufacturing, sales and services sectors. Our commercial debt recovery lawyers provide the advice and guidance you need when looking to collect a debt over £100,000.

We recognise that cashflow is at the heart of any business; our priority is to consider the most effective debt collection method in order to achieve the best recovery in light of the debtor’s finances. We will consider if it is appropriate to issue a civil claim, serve a statutory demand or commence winding-up proceedings.

Our expertise includes:

  • Recovery of commercial debts. Our business debt recovery lawyers have significant experience in collecting high-value debts in the UK and internationally. Our extensive international network of GGI member firms ensures that we have access to and can work closely with specialist advisers around the globe
  • Assisting insolvency practitioners with investigations, tracing, recovery of book-debts and realisation of assets. We can rely on our specialist lawyers in our Real Estate team to assist with the recovery of outstanding rent and service charges due under commercial leases
  • We will also consider the recoverability of additional sums by way of contractual interest and/or legal costs or interest and compensation under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998
  • If matters become defended, we can deal seamlessly with the dispute drawing on our Corporate, Commercial and International dispute resolution expertise.

Doug managed Thomson Snell & Passmore's input into an unusual litigation case. He ensured continuity and senior input, as required, and brought on board relevant expert advice when required. Doug was also very effective in managing the firms inputs to ensure the costs incurred were appropriate for the claim. I would have no hesitation in recommending Doug for similar engagements.

Real Estate Disputes

We provide pragmatic and commercial solutions for our clients to resolve real estate disputes.

Our team represent clients in all forums including the High Court and County Court, Lands Tribunal, and the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), but we look to achieve a cost effective resolution before matters proceed that far.

All of our real estate dispute lawyers are members of the Property Litigation Association and we have strong working relationships with specialist surveyors and experts, as well as Chancery barristers, and are used to working as part of a professional team.

We actively promote alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation and arbitration in order to achieve results for you.

Above all, we recognise that the real estate world is a business in which personal relationships count and we fully address the human as well as the legal dimension of any problem.


Our specialisms include:

  • Development disputes, including unlocking land for development purposes to include diversion of public rights of way, telecommunications issues, settlement of overage disputes, obtaining permission to carry out work to common land, and all related planning matters
  • Real estate disputes to include advising on easements, restrictive covenants, boundary issues and adverse possession claims
  • Property insolvency matters to include the enforcement of fixed charges and debentures, the appointment of receivers, and advising on company voluntary arrangements
  • Commercial landlord & tenant disputes including rent reviews, breach of tenancy agreements and forfeiture
  • Recovering possession of land from tenants, trespassers and squatters
  • Resolving disputes concerning jointly owned property by utilising the process under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996
  • Lease extensions and enfranchisement under the statutory process
  • Professional negligence claims arising from property related matters
  • Telecommunications & Code disputes
  • Advising landowners and farmers on rights and liabilities in connection with agricultural tenancies
  • Planning disputes.


Funding disputes can be a challenge. We recognise that whether bringing or defending a claim, businesses and individuals alike want to achieve positive outcomes, as cost effectively as possible.

Managing the downside risk of dealing with a dispute, particularly if court proceedings are commenced, is also of paramount importance. This is because there is always a risk, no matter how small, of losing the case and the investment you have made in it, and being required to pay a proportion of your opponent’s costs.

We can advise you on a range of potential funding, risk sharing and insurance options, to help address these concerns. The options available will depend on the type of dispute you are involved in, and the forum best suited to resolving it, but can include:

  • Standard, private paying arrangements, where you pay our fees and any expenses we incur on your behalf as the case progresses, on the basis of estimates or fixed fees, agreed with you in advance
  • Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs) where our fees are discounted in full or in part as the case proceeds. If the case is won, you then also pay us the amount of the reduction applied, plus a success fee. If the case is lost, you do not have to pay the discount applied to our fees, or any success fee; your liability for our fees is limited to what you have paid (if anything) along the way. You would still need to pay any expenses we incur on your behalf under a CFA, though, whether or not the case is successful
  • After the event insurance (ATE Insurance), which protects you against the risk of having to pay your opponent’s legal costs if your claim is unsuccessful. Many ATE Insurance policies also include cover to reimburse you for any expenses you have incurred if the case is lost. ATE Insurance can sit alongside a CFA to significantly reduce the overall cost and risk of pursuing a claim. Some insurers will agree to defer all or part of the policy premium until the conclusion of the case, but the premiums can be expensive
  • Third party funding schemes, where a professional funder will finance some or all of your fees and all of your expenses, including the cost of ATE Insurance, in exchange for a proportion of the recovery made. This type of scheme is usually only suitable if you are bringing a claim for financial compensation
  • Contingency fees, where you would not be charged our fees in full or in part if you lose, but if you are successful, our fees would amount to a percentage of what is recovered (plus any reduced fee we had agreed to charge as the case went along). Again, this type of arrangement is only suitable if you are seeking financial compensation, and unlike third party funding schemes, contingency fee arrangements cannot be used where court proceedings are issued.

Thank you so much for helping us through this. Three weeks ago it seemed like we were drowning but thanks to you all our dream is back on course. It has been a pleasure to deal with such a group of professionals, you have been just spot on at every stage. Your diligence is hugely appreciated.

Third party funding

We can advise on the litigation financing solutions that are available from a range of specialist third party funders, to help businesses and individuals meet the cost of bringing claims for compensation.

Typically, your claim will need to have a value of at least £500,000, to ensure that you receive a large enough proportion of any damages to make taking the action worthwhile.

However, funding can be obtained fora portfolio of lower value claims that, collectively, have a value which make them economic to fund. Funding can provide funding to meet the cost of high value, complex and heavyweight litigation, too.

Most types of claims for damages are eligible to apply, except for personal injury or clinical negligence claims.

The starting point is the same as for any dispute – does your case have a good chance of success, and can the opponent afford to pay the amount of your claim and costs? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, litigation funding and costs insurance could be available.

If your case qualifies, we can help assess the different ways in which the funding can be structured. This could include helping to secure funding for all of your legal costs, including our fees, court fees, barrister’s fees and any expert’s fees, so you would not have to pay anything at all as the case proceeds.

Depending on the nature of the case, however, it may be preferable for you to make a contribution to the case costs, and for us to put some of our fees at risk. In this scenario, we would work under a Partial Conditional Fee Agreement (PCFA) meaning that a percentage, say 60% of our fees, are paid as the case progresses and 40% are only paid if the case is successful.

Under this type of arrangement you would have to pay no more than half of the 60% PCFA fees as the case progresses. The other half would be paid by the funder, as well as all of the other litigation costs, such as court fees, barrister’s fees, and expert’s fees.

We can help you to arrange insurance to cover your liability to pay the opponent’s costs, should the claim fail. Insurance can also be taken to cover any costs you have paid under a PCFA, if applicable.

If the claim is unsuccessful and you have complied with the insurance policy, the insurer would pay for any adverse costs and any PCFA fees you have paid, up to the limit of the cover. Provided you have complied with the funding agreement, you would not have to repay the funds that the funder has provided.

This means that your overall costs risk would be limited to any uninsured amount of the opponent’s costs you are ordered to pay, and the uninsured amount of any PCFA fees you have paid, as opposed to the normal risk of having to pay all of your own costs and around 70% of the opponent’s costs.

If you are successful, the damages awarded at trial, or from any settlement sum negotiated, will be used to cover any deferred PCFA costs and all the costs of the litigation funding, including the success fee that applies under our PCFA, and to the funding Augusta has provided.

The exact percentages will vary from case to case, but most funders aim to ensure that you will receive at least 50% of the net damages or settlement sum, as part of its eligibility assessment.

This form of litigation funding means that you can pursue a damages claim at a fraction of the usual upfront cost, and the downside risk of losing can be reduced to virtually nothing, or a very small percentage of the total costs of bringing the case.

It is intended, therefore, not just for claimants who cannot afford to meet the cost of pursuing a good claim, but also for those claimants who do not wish to put their own resources at risk.

It is lawyers like Kamal that understand when is the time to fight and when it is time to negotiate that ensure that mediation sits at the very centre of dispute resolution today. 

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