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Profile: Commercial Disputes
Experience and Expertise
This is a core area of Stephen’s work, and he probably undertakes more of this type of work than any other single area. Most of this work is contract-based, arising in a commercial context. It is sometimes connected with other chancery areas such as company, partnership or property. On other occasions it is set in other contexts such as banking, employment, agency, guarantees, bailment and conversion and sale of goods or services.
Stephen’s reputation is as a tough commercial litigator. However, underlying that, is a thorough approach to mastering the facts, and a keen, analytical mind applied to identify, advise on, and develop argument in relation to, the key issues. Stephen is always realistic and commercial in his advice and approach, and enjoys working with clients to attain the best results achievable. Increasingly ADR is used in this field, and Stephen has an excellent record in helping to obtain favourable settlements in mediation.
In Stephen’s early career at the Bar he appeared in the leading House of Lords case on contractual repudiation: Woodar Investments Development Ltd v Wimpey Construction UK Ltd  1 All ER 571. Since then he has advised and represented clients in court, and particularly latterly in mediation, in a very large number of commercial disputes cases. Recent examples include the following:
- Salt & Evans v Corris Developments Ltd  EWHC 3822 (Ch) – Appeal against application to set aside statutory demand; application for wasted costs order against solicitor.
- Re Salt  EWHC 2105 (Ch) – Enforcement of guarantee by statutory demand; whether liability under guarantee sounds in debt or damages
- dispute as to buy-out price based on share sale agreement between Russian oligarchs;
- claim against bank for reneging on manager’s indication that bank would re-finance business customer’s substantial loan without charging redemption penalty;
- acting against bank and its valuers in relation to loan advanced for purchase of substantial City property;
- claim against bank for mis-selling interest rate hedging agreement in large commercial loan;
- claim against City employers for refusing to employ brokers after all matters had been agreed but before contracts were executed;
- guarantee claim raising question of what type of guarantee claims can be subject of bankruptcy petition;
- defending claim by accountant for fees, based upon analysis of agreements between the parties;
- several claims by estate agents (for agent or customer) for commission;
- claims by surveyors for fees under Party Wall Act, including parties liable to meet award;
- defending claim by builders in relation to adjudication process under Housing etc Act 1996;
- substantial claim by Chinese student recruitment agency against UK university for introducing various categories of students against complex and evolving contractual background;
- defending claim for software supplies on grounds of defective supply;
- acting against major parcel delivery service in substantial dispute with schools supplier;
- major claim for earn-out consideration under a share sale agreement, involving rectification claims;
- ongoing claims to overage payments following sale of property to a major hospital for development.
- Stephen has also undertaken substantial drafting work in relation to commercial agreements including for a private golf club in a complex association agreement with a Premier League football club.
Stephen has given various seminar talks in the field of company and commercial matters, including a recent one on contractual repudiation.