Professional Services Disputes

Our Practice

Our professional services disputes team acts for leading actuarial, accountancy, law, consulting and other professional service firms and is experienced in dealing with the full range of liability, risk and professional disciplinary issues that such professional service firms face.

We operate under the highest standards and pride ourselves on being client-focused and working in an effective and cost-efficient manner.

Recognising the particular pressures faced by professional service firms dealing with litigation or regulatory enquiry, we work closely with our clients to develop a strategy at the outset. We are especially adept at co-ordinating and managing proceedings in multiple tribunals and/or across multiple jurisdictions, whether involving local Simmons & Simmons offices or trusted local firms with whom we have close working relationships.

The great majority of the team’s work takes place “behind the scenes”, dealing with risk issues as they arise, steering as much as possible the course of ensuing investigations and proceedings towards a favourable outcome. Where a contest is unavoidable, we commit all necessary resources towards achieving victory.

Our International Experience

Selected highlights of our recent experience include the following:

UK & Europe

  • acting for Grant Thornton in the on-going defence of the claims brought against it by Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz and related parties, valued by the claimants at in excess of £2bn
  • acting for the former CFO of Autonomy in civil, regulatory and disciplinary proceedings and investigations (both the SFO and the FRC)
  • acting for a top 10 accounting firm on a £250m claim brought against it in its capacity as administrative receiver
  • defending a global professional services company on a £50m claim by a pension fund relating to advice on an investment which, through our work at the pre-action stage in particular, was subsequently not pursued by the claimant
  • acting for a professional trustee company in relation to on-going claims arising out of Principal Global’s US$42m investment in the Liongate investment management group
  • acting on behalf of a well-known firm and its professional indemnity insurers in relation to a significant claim arising out of the alleged mismanagement of a pension scheme by its trustees
  • defending various firms from claims relating to Madoff and the AIG Premier Access Bond, including strategic advice regarding the approach to complaints considered by the Financial Ombudsman Service
  • defending firms, on instructions from their insurers, against claims relating to the Keydata life bonds and the Arch Cru funds, including negotiating with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme
  • acting for a global professional services firm, partners and employees in connection with a private criminal investigation and potential prosecution.

Asia

  • successfully defended EY in claims of up to US$260million arising from the liquidation of Moulin Global Eyecare Limited
  • advising a Big Four accounting firm in reacting to discovery of fraudulent misstatement in their IPO prospectus, eventually resulting in investors being compensated by the issuer and no litigation or regulatory action against our client
  • advising a Big Four audit firm in respect of a high-profile Hong Kong IPO that is the subject of SFC enforcement action and liquidator claims against the issuer’s former directors and others, as well as Hong Kong FRC investigation and HKICPA disciplinary proceedings
  • defending the former Finance Director of CITIC Pacific against SFC allegations brought in the MMT of negligent disclosure of false or misleading information to the market
  • advising a Big Four accounting firm in three HKICPA disciplinary matters arising from an infamous listed company fraud, which had resulted in several directors being given long jail terms
  • advising a Big Four firm in respect of the impending insolvency of a large conglomerate dual-listed in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Middle East

  • acting for the liquidators (from Deloitte) of Espirito Santo Bank (Dubai) Ltd in a complex Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) liquidation including advising on a range of cross-border disputes, multi-jurisdictional regulatory issues, and conducting a wide-scale investigation into the activities of the company in the years leading up to its collapse
  • acting for EY in DIFC court proceedings: Orion Holding Overseas Ltd and Diwan Capital Ltd (in liquidation).

Specialist Expertise

Privilege

The team regularly advise professional service firms on internal risk management procedures and guidance, including on topics such as the maintenance of privilege.

Moreover, Colin Passmore, our Senior Partner, is the author of "Passmore on Privilege", one of the leading textbooks on the subject of legal professional privilege.  Click here to read Colin’s blog on privilege.

eDiscovery and disclosure

Traditional approaches to disclosure and document management have become unduly burdensome for organisations involved in disputes.

As one of the first law firms to bring Relativity® (the document review platform) in-house and build an integrated team of technical and legal experts, we provide unparalleled understanding of the artificial intelligence/analytical functionality and how to use it to deliver increased quality and reduced costs for clients (including our professional services clients, for whom we have used this experience and expertise on a number of recent matters).

Our bespoke approach to each dispute ensures that the best workflow is adopted for the particular dataset, and the number of documents requiring human review is limited.

To find out more about our eDiscovery solution, click here.

Contentious regulatory

Our expertise in this area includes the conduct of disciplinary proceedings, internal investigations where we report on suspected irregularities and on regulatory investigations where we can advise and assist you on response strategies.