Practice/Industry Group Overview
Edwards Wildman has a leading international general commercial litigation and arbitration practice. We advise multinationals, government organizations and foreign lawyers on the full range of commercial disputes. The disputes we handle are usually large and complex and often include a cross-border element. They can arise out of a variety of business relationships, including commercial contracts, distribution and franchise agreements, mergers and acquisitions and supplier agreements. The firm’s experience spans the complete spectrum of legal problems arising from a variety of business relationships – including commercial contract disputes, distribution and franchise agreements, mergers and acquisitions, partnerships and close corporations, unfair and deceptive trade practices claims and other business torts, bankruptcy proceedings, and vendor and supply agreements.
Our commercial litigation practice successfully resolves complex business disputes for clients across a broad range of industries. We also have substantial experience defending companies in a variety of consumer or customer initiated litigation involving unfair and deceptive trade practices, consumer financing, and compliance with consumer-oriented regulations. Our litigators also practice in more specialized areas such as antitrust, securities and intellectual property, and these specialties are summarized in separate materials.
The principles on which we base our representation of clients in business disputes are to gain an early understanding of the value and significance of the controversy to the client and to resolve it as quickly and efficiently as possible. In the world of expensive, electronic discovery-freighted litigation, our clients need creative, imaginative, practical, and non-formulaic tactics and strategy. We strive to achieve client objectives through early assessments, strong motion practice, appreciation of venue and other important on-the-ground considerations, and business-oriented options for resolution. When our clients’ needs require, we are prepared and willing to try cases and work with our clients to ensure their confidence in proceeding through trial. We firmly believe that our courtroom advocacy enhances our clients’ credibility as litigants, and affords us keen perspective on the arrays of possible litigation outcomes.
Our understanding of the issues facing in-house legal departments is further enhanced by the secondment of two of our junior lawyers to two of the key clients of the firm, one of these being a FTSE100 multinational and the other one of the leading names in retail in the UK.
Our aim is to resolve disputes in the manner best designed to achieve our client's business objectives and we are committed to the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) where appropriate.
When taking on new cases we agree an overall strategy with the client at an early stage, which will take into account both the legal and commercial aspects of the matter, including the strengths and weaknesses of the case. We will map out a course to achieve the client's goals.
In addition to our High Court and Appeal Court experience in the UK, our lawyers are often involved in resolving disputes through arbitration, mediation and other forms of dispute resolution. We look to develop a deep understanding of our client's business to allow us to provide the best advice on the legal issues involved, and where requested in relation to relevant commercial issues. We are committed to managing our client's costs in the best way possible and have experience of in-house litigation support to assist our lawyers in relation to document management issues.
Our Hong Kong office is equally committed to the same ethos of putting clients' interests first with regard to dispute resolution, seeking to achieve settlement as early as possible and always actively considering ADR where appropriate. This is also in line with the spirit of the recent civil justice reform in HK, which was partly modeled upon the reform that took place in the UK more than a decade ago, aiming to increase the cost-effectiveness of litigation and facilitate settlement.
Apart from handling general commercial disputes, our HK office has in-depth experience dealing with highly complex areas of litigation including insolvency, insurance, intellectual property and professional negligence, as well as anti-corruption investigations.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Our litigators have considerable experience in mediation and arbitration. We advise on the appropriate form of mediation and relevant tactics. One of our London partners is an accredited mediator and our London office was a founding member of the Centre for Dispute Resolution (CEDR).
The firm has been active for many years in representing clients in both the US and the UK as well as globally before arbitral tribunals in disputes spanning a vast array of industries. Edwards Wildman lawyers represent clients in ad hoc as well as institutional arbitrations. The breadth of our experience begins at the transactional level, where our arbitration practitioners are actively involved with corporate counsel to craft forum selection clauses and dispute resolution methodologies suited to the deal or cross-border relationship. Our lawyers are experienced with arbitration procedure in the US before the AAA, Jams and CPR in commercial matters and they are also experienced in arbitration conducted under the Rules of many of the leading global arbitral institutions such as The International Chamber of Commerce, The London Court of International Arbitration, the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) and Hong Kong Arbitration Centers among others. The breadth of disputes on which Edwards Wildman has represented clients ranges from private equity investments, through a wide range of commercial contracts, to patent and IP-related license agreements.
Asset Recovery and Anti-Corruption
We act for Governments seeking to trace, freeze and recover misappropriated public funds and bribes from dishonest public officials, their companies, trusts and associates, and advise on the complex political, practical and legal issues that arise. We assist Governments to plan and implement effective international asset tracing and recovery programs, enforce foreign civil or criminal forfeiture/confiscation orders in the UK and make requests for mutual legal assistance in criminal proceedings. We act for companies seeking to freeze and recover the proceeds of fraud in civil proceedings and on the implementation of anti-corruption policies. With partners in the US, we advise on the application of the FCPA and the application of other anti-corruption legislation around the world. Our London office has acted as the FCPA monitor to a client in relation to a European business as part of a settlement with the US Department of Justice.
International and Jurisdictional matters
We have considerable experience of cross-border litigation and international arbitration involving the examination of conflict of laws, forum and jurisdictional disputes. We advise on the most appropriate forum for litigating a dispute, and the enforcement of foreign judgments. We frequently advise on the interpretation of the Brussels and Lugano Conventions, the Rome Convention, the Administration of Justice Act 1920, the Foreign Judgments Reciprocal Enforcement Act 1933 and the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982.
Our litigators have wide experience in the field of judicial review, including public law proceedings, acting for and against public authorities, corporations and local authorities on contentious matters. The practice has particular expertise in the context of the financial services industry. We also provide sensitive and confidential, often pre-litigation advice to our clients.
Our product liability focus brings together the experience of litigators within our commercial litigation and insurance litigation teams. We act for manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, insurers and reinsurers in domestic and international matters relating to product liability. In addition to having wide experience in both the litigation and arbitration of disputes arising from a variety of products, we offer advice on how clients can minimize their exposure to potential claims.
Our litigators are experienced in dealing with all aspects of legal issues which arise in this field, from initial investigation of the produced, strategic advice on handling such issues (often across several disputes), to handling High Court litigation or arbitration proceedings and settlement issues. We have substantial experience in handling large group actions across several jurisdictions.
Our experience has ranged across a wide variety of products including drugs, chemicals, automobiles, boilers and asbestos. We have developed a particular expertise in handling product liability issues arising from railway accidents, oil pipelines, engineering disputes and traditional manufactured products.
We have a strong reputation in the fields of regulatory and disciplinary work, particularly arising out of the professional and financial services sectors. We advise accountants, lawyers and other professionals in relation to proceedings in their respective professional disciplinary tribunals, companies and individuals in relation to enquiries by the Financial Services Authority and directors in relation to disqualification proceedings. We also assist and advise in relation to internal disciplinary procedures and investigations.