Hello and welcome to the Fides Weekly Update. Take a look at this week’s key trends, moves and developments in the UK legal sector.
Tweet us @Fides_Search to let us know your thoughts.
1). Burford calls in disputes heavyweights in aftermath of Muddy Waters attack
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Morrison & Foester have all been enlisted by litigation funder Burford Capital to pursue claims of illegal market manipulation by short-seller Muddy Waters.
This follows the publication of a report by Muddy Waters last week which sent the shares of the funder crashing more than 50%, wiping £1bn off the company’s value.
On August 7, the US hedge fund, which is headed by Carson Black, described the Burford as a “poor business masquerading as a great one” and “the perfect storm for an accounting fiasco”. It accused the firm of operating a lottery ticket model, relying on big, but rare, success, rather than consistent returns for shareholders.
Fellow short-seller Gotham City Research – which notoriously helped sink technology provider Quindell in 2014 – has since added pressure by suggesting Burford was ‘inappropriately financed.’
On Monday, Burford announced that a preliminary finding of its analysis of trading shares last week displayed ‘evidence consistent with illegal market manipulation’, with The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) further investigating the matter.
Burford has retained Freshfields, Quinn Emanuel and Morrison & Foerster on the matter. Freshfields corporate partner Christopher Mort is working with colleague Ali Sallaway in the investigations team. Quinn Emanuel is fielding a transatlantic team comprised of partners John Quinn, Andrew Rossman amd Corey Worcester in the US, and Richard East in London, who is involved in investment fund litigation. Morrison & Foerster investigations partner Michael Birnbaum is also working on the matter for Burford.
The controversy falls against a backdrop of considerable growth in third-party litigation funding over the last decade, with low interest rates and investor demand to gain access to professional services both accelerating the industry. However, the circling of short-sellers around Burford will fuel many critics who believe the industry requires greater oversight and transparency, while a prolonged legal dispute between Burford and Muddy Waters looks increasingly likely.
2). Movers & Shakers
Eversheds has hired two legal technologists, Mark Collins from HSF and Kate Perevoshchikova from artificial intelligence platform Luminance, to work alongside lawyers on automation and technology projects applied to real estate matters.
Goodwin Procter has further bolstered its London technology and life sciences group with a hire of partner Ali Ramadan from U.S. rival Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe
Partner Joel Arnell is leaving Kirkland’s London office to join investment firm Triton Partners, one of their key clients
Philip Dowsett has spent over a decade in the Middle East, most recently at Morgan, Lewis and Bockius
London partner Mark McNeill will join litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel’s New York office after 12 years at Shearman.
Inclusion and Diversity
Technology and Innovation