Naomi Simpson is a managing associate at Mishcon de Reya
What is fraud litigation?
Fraud permeates every sector of the global economy. Latest reports estimate that fraud costs the UK economy more than £193bn each year. The global nature of today’s business and a significant increase in cyber-crime means fraud is now affecting more people than ever. From employees taking confidential information from one employer to the next, to ransomware attacks and false accounting within big corporates, fraud is now all around us and victims can range from corporate entities to private individuals.
If you are a victim of fraud, acting swiftly and decisively is essential. Freezing assets and preserving evidence is key, so the immediate reactions to an event of fraud have to be managed correctly and commercially. Facing allegations of fraud can be equally destructive, putting livelihoods and reputations on the line. The immediate response to either situation is critical and unless properly advised, you could damage your case, your prospects of securing a recovery or impact any parallel criminal or regulatory investigation. There can be no compromising in your approach, as there will be no compromise in the attack.
The fraud practice at Mishcon de Reya
We have a team dedicated to fraud litigation which includes one of the largest groups of international injunction specialists in London. Fraud litigation requires individuals who have an instinctive approach to investigation and interrogation, know how to problem-solve in the most commercial ways and can operate to use the full extent of the powers of the English courts (and the courts in foreign jurisdictions). Our team provides this at every turn.
Each dispute requires a bespoke solution, sometimes aggressive, sometimes measured. We fight our client’s corner and take ownership of their dispute so that we can resolve it as effectively as possible. We fiercely guard our clients’ interests whatever the situation. We also recognise that going to court is not always the answer and so we give clear, dispassionate, commercial advice from the outset.
The majority of the fraud litigation work we undertake is cross-border, multi-jurisdictional and complex. Mishcon de Reya services an international community of clients and provides advice in situations where the constraints of geography do not apply. Our overriding emphasis, however, is on utilising litigation as a commercial tool to deliver a return on investment for our clients. Our team are therefore dedicated strategists.
More often than not, our work is of an injunctive nature because fraud litigation starts with a claimant trying to secure assets or evidence and a defendant responding to those injunctions. Due to the nature of how fraud litigation commences, tensions always run high and the parties are less amenable to dealing with matters in a conciliatory way. Our experience acting for claimants and defendants allows us to anticipate the tactics opponents deploy and quickly take the steps necessary to protect our clients, while working in ‘pressure cooker’ situations. It also enables us to resolve complex and sensitive cases in ways that protect our clients from endless litigation and unnecessary costs.
Our own international network of fraud specialists, the International Fraud Group, provides a critical edge in securing piggyback injunctions and advice in other jurisdictions. The group frequently co-counsels with overseas lawyers to develop effective global litigation strategies. The fraud team at Mishcon de Reya sits within a wider team of dispute resolution specialists, covering insolvency litigation, insurance disputes, banking and finance litigation, competition litigation, real estate litigation, intellectual property disputes, tax litigation, regulatory advice, corporate disputes, white-collar litigation, employment claims and family matters. This means that, whatever the distinct situation a client finds themself in, we have people on hand to guide virtually all specialist areas of litigation.
Our clients are dynamic and sophisticated and we reflect that in our belief in challenging the conventional or accepted ways of working. We like to solve problems quickly. We recognise the significant nexus between business affairs and personal affairs and the ways in which this affects our clients. Building strong personal connections to our clients and their businesses is important to us and we appreciate the privilege of sitting alongside our clients as a trusted advisor.
Working in the Mishcon de Reya fraud team
Every day is different and is dependent on the case being worked on or on client requirements.
If you are working on a big new injunction, you will spend virtually 100% of your time preparing for the ex-parte or on notice court hearing. This includes strategising with the client, interviewing witnesses, locating supportive documents, potentially instructing investigators and obtaining foreign law input, instructing counsel and drafting lengthy affidavits. If you are working on a search order, you would then be liaising with various third parties (computer experts/supervising solicitors) in preparation for the raid.
During other weeks, however, your time can be more varied. At any one time you could be working on a number of different matters, which requires a balancing act of project managing, prioritising and meeting client needs. This would include attending client meetings, preparing and attending court hearings, undertaking and managing document reviews, drafting correspondence and witness evidence, and liaising with experts or lawyers in other jurisdictions. On top of that, every member of the team has an obligation to develop others and create ways of working that make us more efficient for our clients. This includes training, working on precedents, writing articles and attending conferences.
The best part about the fraud team at Mishcon de Reya is how well we work together. Nothing is too much for our clients and nothing is too much for one of our own as well. We work tirelessly towards our clients’ goals. The hours can be tough from time to time, but the team spirit, which is led by the partners, makes it all worth it.
We try to ensure that everyone in the team has a good mix of work, which challenges them and teaches them at the same time. Mishcon de Reya prides itself on The Academy, our in-house learning, development and thought leadership arm. Through The Academy, each lawyer is building the necessary knowledge, skills and capabilities to ensure that we thrive in an ever-changing world.
There is also a sense of encouragement in the fraud team at Mishcon de Reya. If you want to develop a new strategy or pursue a new client or idea, the partners will back you.
Fraud lawyers have to be tenacious, commercial and have the confidence to lead cases. Other attributes such as flexibility, enthusiasm, creative thinking, analytical skills and drive are also important. Our team is incredibly social and consistently involved in business development projects, which everyone is encouraged to be involved with.
At Mishcon de Reya all of our practice areas rely upon a culture which thrives on diversity, respect for the individual and the expression of talent: one that inspires and empowers individuals to fulfil their potential.
As a forward-thinking firm, the fraud team at Mishcon de Reya is especially alive to the developments occurring within the sector. We now have our own cyber security specialists non-lawyers who consult for clients and advise on any cyber-related issues. We also engage specialist software for asset tracing and network tracking. Our aim is to always provide our clients with the best tools to combat the situations they find themselves in.
Mishcon de Reya LLP