Commercial litigation

Commercial litigation solicitors.

When it comes to commercial relationships, it is inevitable that disagreements will occur from time to time, even when you own or are responsible for the running of a well-operating, cohesive business. Commercial disputes are inherently stressful and it is vital to resolve them swiftly and effectively so you can get back to focusing on the core day-to-day activities required for commercial success. To support you in navigating these conflicts, you should work with a legal team with the expertise to provide you with innovative strategies which fulfil your objectives and align with your business interests.  

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Make an enquiry Commercial Dispute Resolution

Our commercial dispute solicitors advise organisations across a wide variety of industries on the full range of commercial disputes. We work with you closely, becoming experts in your industry and gaining a full awareness of the intricacies of your business and its activities. We will then use this knowledge to provide you with carefully tailored, dynamic solutions which fit into your wider commercial strategy and deliver results.

We pride ourselves on being a team of creative strategists with the expertise to undertake extremely high value and complex claims, which often involve an international element, in a proactive and cost-effective manner.

Crucially we have strong relationships with litigation funders, an important new facet of the litigation landscape. This puts us in the unique position where, once we have helped clients find the right funding, we can move forward in tandem with the funders to achieve the best possible outcome for your business.

Resolving complex business litigation challenges

Commercial disputes arising out of the supply of goods and services, joint ventures or distribution agreements, and the breakdown of commercial relationships are often disruptive, time-consuming and can be highly damaging to your bottom line, reputation and in some circumstances survival. It is in everyone’s interest to resolve these disputes as quickly as possible.

 

At Collyer Bristow, we work with you to resolve these disputes through litigation, arbitration or mediation. Our commercial disputes resolution group skillfully guides you through the courts, tribunals and international arbitral processes. As advocates for alternative dispute resolution, we have a reputation for using more bespoke processes to resolve your commercial dispute, according to the sector or subject matter. Our job is to resolve your dispute quickly and effectively before it becomes a major drain on your time and resources.

Skilful commercial dispute resolution, in or out of court

Sometimes, a trial is unavoidable. In those circumstances, we litigate robustly and fight your corner.

We have extensive experience in acting in complex, sensitive and high-value international and domestic matters, and proceedings all the way up to the Supreme Court. Our aim is to protect your personal and business interests, helping you achieve the best possible outcome and secure your future commercial objectives

 

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Make an enquiry Partnership Disputes

At Collyer Bristow, our partnership disputes lawyers are experts in acting quickly and pragmatically to provide accurate and timely advice to clients.

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Make an enquiry Boardroom Disputes

Company disputes between directors

All company directors have various fiduciary and statutory duties, including a duty to promote the success of their company. At first glance, this obligation seems like a straightforward one. But directors do not always see eye to eye – for example, there will always be clashes between those directors who wish to retain money in a business to invest, and those who wish to pay a larger dividend to shareholders.

When disputes between directors arise, the board of directors is entitled to call upon solicitors for impartial advice. Importantly, only the company itself can bring a claim against a director who is acting wrongfully. Thus, the legal team acts for the company in this situation, rather than the individual directors. This ensures that the advice is both independent and commercial, and will be in the interest of the long-term success of the organisation.

 

Our approach to director disputes

At Collyer Bristow, we handle all types of boardroom disputes including:

  • Deadlock in decision making
  • Problems with performance
  • Breach of directors’ duties
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Removing a director from the board

 

We recognise that every boardroom dispute is different. While in some cases litigation will be the best way to achieve a favourable outcome, other times we can better resolve the dispute through simpler actions. Options include amending the shareholders’ agreement to avoid deadlock decisions or recommending the appointment of a non-executive director who can bring additional expertise to the table and stop potential disputes before they escalate.

We have a team of lawyers from across our dispute resolution and non-contentious business departments who work together to ensure that dispute is resolved in the most cost- and time-effective way.

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Make an enquiry Complex Claims

While there’s no single definition of a ‘complex’ claim, it usually means something that is procedurally complicated or contains a high degree of difficulty. For example, a complex case might:

  • Be highly technical and/or require a specialist understanding of the facts
  • Cross borders or overlap between legal jurisdictions
  • Have a large number of parties participating in the action, especially if they are separately represented
  • Involve a large number of procedural steps, including one or more levels of appeals from earlier decisions
  • Involve a large number of interlocking issues within the overall dispute

By definition, these claims tend to be more expensive and time-consuming than other types of claims. They don’t usually happen in isolation and can have wide-ranging consequences for your business. Often, there are higher stakes involved – which means you need advisors who understand your industry, your organisation, and its long-term goals.

 

Representing clients in an array of complex claims

Collyer Bristow has decades of experience representing clients in complex commercial claims. Our lawyers have successfully won claims for and against prominent institutions, multinational corporations and other parties across a broad range of industries, including financial services, investment funds, telecommunications, media and technology.

Our solicitors can advise you during settlement negotiations, mediation, arbitration and court proceedings. We can also help you consider the effects of the claim on the company’s operations, finances, media profile and competitive position, before offering proactive advice on effective litigation strategies consistent with your business goals.

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Make an enquiry Breach of Contract

What is considered a breach of contract?

A majority of commercial disputes arise because someone has failed to meet their obligations under the terms of an agreement. Despite this, breach of contract law remains frustratingly complex. Even where a written contract exists, the parties often find it difficult to show that a breach has taken place, or quantify the financial losses suffered by the person who is on the receiving end of the breach.

What are the remedies for breach of contract?

The usual remedy for breach of contract is damages. However, breach of contract claims can give rise to all sorts of legal remedies, from terminating the contract to a claim for specific performance, where you compel the at-fault party to do what they said they would do. Sometimes, it is possible to get an injunction to stop the undesirable behaviour and restrain further breaches of contract.

In many commercial contracts, there are clauses that expand, reduce or change the remedies available for breach of contract. For example, it is common to see:

  • Indemnities to enhance damages claims
  • Exit or escape clauses
  • Set offs or limitations on the amount of damages payable for a breach or an indemnity
  • Liquidated damages clauses
  • Retention of title clauses

Each of these contract clauses has different implications for your business, as does the nature of the dispute. For example, if the issue relates to a material breach that goes to the heart of the contract, as opposed to an anticipatory breach where the other party tells you that they will not be carrying out a contractual term, then your options and remedies may be very different.

Experts in breach of contract law

As a renowned London law firm specialising in commercial dispute resolution, Collyer Bristow is the smart choice for breach of contract disputes, including international contract disputes and complex claims. Contractual disputes vary, but we have the right expertise to quickly identify key issues such as the remedies and categories of damages available, the potential for alternative dispute resolution, and the likelihood of success. We pull out all the stops to put things right and get your business back on track.

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Make an enquiry Company Disputes

The complex and often competing relationships between a company, its directors, shareholders and employees means that company disputes can arise in a number of different areas. For example, there may be battles over directors’ remuneration, deadlock in decision making, or shareholders may be unhappy with the way the company is being run.

Whatever the nature of the dispute, our specialist company disputes solicitors can represent your business during negotiations, alternative dispute resolution, and court proceedings. We can also help to nip potential issues in the bud or help you strategise for a dispute you think is coming.

Dealing with company disputes – what can be done?

Taking expert legal advice at an early stage can help prevent disputes that could otherwise escalate into something far more damaging. If not addressed swiftly, company disputes can put pressure on a company’s ability to operate and, ultimately, on its finances. In extreme cases, a company dispute can undermine the company’s trade, brand and reputation.

Our expertise in corporate disputes includes:

Court cases can be time-consuming to prepare and they may divert your attention away from the core business. We try to resolve your dispute through negotiation, mediation or arbitration methods. But if the company dispute cannot be resolved, our litigation lawyers will ensure that you have robust representation in court.

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Make an enquiry M&A and Warranty Claims

Many M&A and warranty claims can be resolved through negotiation or mediation, which is often the best solution.

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Make an enquiry Shareholder Disputes

One of the cornerstones of company law is that the will of the majority should prevail in how the company is managed. If the majority of shareholders are making poor decisions, then a minority shareholder may seek legal remedies from the court. 

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Make an enquiry Breach of Directors’ Duties

Breach of directors’ duties claims can have far-reaching consequences for the business. We act quickly to preserve your valued business relationships and prevent repetitions of the breach in the future.

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Make an enquiry Agency Disputes

A commercial agent is a person or organisation who acts on behalf of a principal. For example, a company may use a commercial agent to negotiate product sales but the contract will still be between the company and the end customer. The agent will usually receive a commission for their services.

Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993

While there are many different types of agency, all of these arrangements have special characteristics and protections in law. Many are governed by the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993 which lays down a plethora of rules regarding the duties of each party, remuneration of the agent, and how you go about terminating the agency relationship.

Termination can have serious consequences since the principal may have to compensate the agent for the loss of the agency. It’s also the area where most disputes arise. Getting quality advice on strategically terminating an agency agreement can limit exposure and ensure the best possible outcome to the dispute.

Expert support from a leading agency disputes team

We advise both principals and agents on all types of agency disputes. For principals, our aim is to minimise your liability under the Regulations. For agents, we seek to tie up the arrangement fairly and ensure that you are properly compensated.

Some of the areas we help with include:

  • Reviewing an agent’s conduct may justify immediate termination in some cases
  • Determining if a principal is liable to pay compensation and if so, how much should be paid
  • Preparing notices to lawfully terminate the agency relationship
  • Advising on complex, cross-border agency relationships, where there may be issues of where the agency dispute arises
  • Drafting clean-break, exposure-limiting settlement agreements

As with most types of disputes, prevention is better than cure. The starting point is a watertight agency agreement that sets out each party’s duties, rights and expectations, as well as the mechanisms for termination. We work hand-in-hand with our non-contentious business team on agency matters, offering a cradle-to-grave service from contract creation to termination and beyond.

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Make an enquiry Professional Negligence

You have every right to assume that the professionals you hire to advise and support your business are up to the task, and will do a good job. Sadly, that’s not always the case. If you have received poor or careless advice from a qualified professional which has caused a financial loss for your business, you could have a claim for professional negligence.

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Make an enquiry Civil Fraud

Civil frauds are complex disputes and all require a careful approach. Our civil fraud solicitors are experts in making & challenging civil fraud claims.

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Make an enquiry Trade Disputes

Operating in the global marketplace provides avenues for growth and revenue expansion, but it also widens the potential for trade disputes. Trading businesses need to import and export goods and services in accordance with national and international trade laws that seem to expand and change on a daily basis. To make things more complicated, every region in the world has a different approach to resolving trade disputes and how negotiations are conducted.

We help businesses navigate complex trade disputes and cross-border challenges. Our commercial disputes lawyers have substantial experience in this area and regularly solve problems relating to the international sales of goods, including letters of credit, bills of exchange, charter parties, bills of lading disputes, export licence controls and insurance claims.

We find solutions based on pragmatism and our extensive experience, offering a fresh perspective on any trade dispute, clash or breach of contract.

Quick and cost-effective trade disputes resolution

Trade disputes are particularly responsive to creative commercial solutions, whether by negotiated settlement, in court, or by using the flexibility of the arbitral process. We have a strong record of success in High Court litigation proceedings, LCIA and other arbitrations, and through alternative dispute resolution.

Through hands-on management, we deliver succinct and relevant advice to you, on time and within budget.

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Make an enquiry Product Liability

Few commercial businesses can wholly eliminate risk when it comes to their products. When a dispute becomes an issue of liability, the matter needs careful handling to protect the brand and reputation of the business, as well as profits.

Collyer Bristow’s specialist product liability team has extensive experience in defending and minimising product liability claims, including:

  • Compensation claims for negligence or breach of contract
  • Strict liability resulting from defective products
  • Safety issues
  • Claims against others who may have contributed to the product liability claim
  • Product recall

We offer support on a whole spectrum of issues from minor disputes through to the most complex disputes.

End-to-end product liability defence and protection

The aim of a product liability lawyer is to resolve your claim quickly and effectively so you can get back to business. Where possible, we will seek alternatives to litigation to minimise time, cost and interruptions to your operations. Many cases can be resolved by mediation or face-to-face negotiations, even where multiple parties are involved.

Our complete service deals with the wider aspects of public liability too. We are one of the few firms to have a specialist in-house corporate reputation management team who can work with you to minimise the effects of negative press reporting arising from the product liability claim.

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Make an enquiry Litigation Funding

Legal claims can be expensive and the outcome unpredictable. So it’s understandable that a key consideration for many of our clients is how the legal action will be funded. The last thing you want to have to do is abandon the claim or strategically limit your settlement options because of an inability to fund the litigation.

Alternative options for funding litigation

Getting early advice on suitable options to fund litigation is key to reducing financial exposure. We’re happy to discuss a range of options, including:

Legal expenses insurance – insurance taken out before the dispute, often as part of a wider pack of commercial insurance products.

Conditional fee agreements – An agreement between a client and solicitor whereby all or part of the solicitors’ fees will only be payable by the client in certain circumstances, normally if the client wins the case.

Damages-based agreements – essentially a pre-agreed percentage split of any money recovered; if the claim fails, the solicitor receives nothing. Attractive as the parties know exactly where they stand.

Third-party litigation funding – a specialist third-party funder with no connection to the dispute agrees to finance some or all of the legal costs in return for a share of the damages if the claim is successful.

At Collyer Bristow, we are intimately familiar with all types of litigation funding and are receptive to any bespoke financial models. We can introduce you to the leading litigation funders who may be able to assist where you need alternative funding for your case.

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Make an enquiry Alternative Methods of Dispute Resolution

Court is not an easy option. Sometimes, you will get a better – and swifter – result by engaging in one of the many alternative methods of dispute resolution. This might be a range of things, from sitting down around a table and thrashing out a settlement, to a more formal approach such as mediation or arbitration.

Alternative forms of dispute resolution

Arbitration is a quasi-judicial form of dispute resolution. There is the option to appoint an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators with particular expertise in the relevant area. The arbitrator has more discretion than a court in the solution they award, and the decision is legally binding with only limited avenues for challenging the arbitrator’s decision so the case is effectively done and dusted when the award is made.

Generally, the arbitration will be conducted according to the rules of an arbitral organisation, such as the LCIA or the International Chamber of Commerce.

 

Expert determination offers another more flexible method of resolving disputes. It is far less regulated than arbitration and the non-legal expert has more freedom to draw on his own expertise and make whatever inquiries he deems relevant. It is often a good option where the dispute is more technical as opposed to legal or factual in nature, such as the quantification of loss in a delayed construction project.

Why choose our dispute resolution team?

Our clients don’t just get a lawyer – they get a strategic partner. Work with Collyer Bristow and you’ll get tactical advice on the best way to resolve a dispute, whether that’s through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, expert determination or some other imaginative solution that meets your objectives on time, cost and risk. Where litigation is unavoidable, we have the experience to fiercely fight your corner all the way up to the Supreme Court.

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Make an enquiry International & Cross Border Disputes

International commercial disputes can be challenging to resolve in today’s business climate.

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    Commercial litigation key contacts

    Latest content and downloads

    Check out our latest content and downloads View all our downloads

    Navigating your business through conflict

    Conflicts are an unfortunate yet inevitable part of commercial life that must be dealt with swiftly and effectively. Our commercial litigation lawyers work with clients across a vast range of industries supporting them through the full range of disputes.

    Read more

    What others say about us

    “Unlike other law firms we previously used, Collyer Bristow has shown nimbleness and out of the box thinking we had not previously experienced. The firm’s commitment has pro-actively been on the front foot, and their counsel clear with legal correspondence that is elegant, cost effective and coherent; on the whole we are very impressed by the firms offering!”

    Recent experience

    • Our Commercial disputes team is acting in a on-going and complex cross-border fraud dispute in claim for over £40 million.

      COMMERCIAL DISPUTES

      Cross-border dispute

      Robin HenryPartner - Head of Dispute Resolution Services

      Case study

      Our Commercial disputes team is acting in a on-going and complex cross-border fraud dispute in claim for over £40 million.

      Read more

    • We acted in a complex £multi-million dispute with a bank and its advisors regarding the liability of third-party litigation funders .

      COMMERCIAL DISPUTES

      Liability of litigation funders dispute

      Robin HenryPartner - Head of Dispute Resolution Services

      Case study

      We acted in a complex £multi-million dispute with a bank and its advisors regarding the liability of third-party litigation funders .

      Read more

    • We acted for a consulting firm in a complex £multimillion claim against one of the world’s leading professional services firms for breach of contract and other related claims, relating to a mining company.

      COMMERCIAL DISPUTES

      Mining company dispute

      Robin HenryPartner - Head of Dispute Resolution Services

      Case study

      We acted for a consulting firm in a complex £multimillion claim against one of the world’s leading professional services firms for breach of contract and other related claims, relating to a mining company.

      Read more

    “Exceptionally well-informed about the market, intelligent and able to learn new areas of business very quickly. They are also commercial and pragmatic”

    Legal 500, 2021

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