I come from up North originally, from Chester. Instead of doing a law degree, I studied History at Cambridge, but that’s not to say I wasn't considering a career in law. In fact, I had an inkling this would be the path I would choose when I was 17, but I decided to study something else and leave the option of converting to law open. In the summer between my second and third year of studying, I did a vacation scheme with Herbert Smith Freehills, spending two weeks with the Disputes team and one week with the Competition team. Then, when I graduated, I moved to London and completed the Graduate Diploma in Law, before doing the Legal Practice Course.
In August 2017, a leading investment bank (a key banking client of ours) received a letter from one of its Middle Eastern counterparts alleging that the bank had made fraudulent misrepresentations when negotiating a joint venture agreement over a decade ago, and that it had subsequently breached the contract. The letter also threatened proceedings against the bank regarding these allegations. Although no formal proceedings have yet been issued, if the parties are unable to resolve the dispute amicably it is likely that the other side will issue proceedings for a Dubai-based arbitration. Following receipt of the letter, the bank engaged HSF's disputes teams in London and Dubai to defend it against the threatened claim. I was a trainee on secondment to the Dubai office at the time that I began working on the case. As the dispute has continued and gathered pace, I have progressed from trainee in Dubai to associate in London and I am now working on the case as part of the London team.
My role on the case as a trainee in Dubai included legal research into the particular allegations being made, including the requirements to establish misrepresentation claims and recent case law in similar contexts. I was also involved in preparing a chronology of events leading up to the establishment of the joint venture, and a dramatis personae to help the team understand the role of the individuals involved in the events in dispute. After qualification, I moved back to the London office and continued to work on the case as an associate. My role on the case changed immediately, and, as an associate, I am increasingly involved in strategy discussions, liaising with the client and drafting substantive letters to the other side which set out the bank's position and rebut the allegations made against it.
If formal arbitration proceedings are issued, it is usual for these types of cases to last for many years. The parties would first have to agree which arbitrators to appoint, and then would be engaged in several rounds of exchanging statements of case, disclosure and witness statements. As this is case is still at an early stage, and the parties are currently in pre-action correspondence, it is not clear when a formal resolution will be reached or indeed whether proceedings will be issued. However, the Dubai and London offices are continuing to work together to achieve a successful outcome for the bank, and working on this case has been a good introduction to the benefits that working at a global law firm brings to both its lawyers and clients. I have particularly enjoyed taking on an increasing amount of responsibility for this case as an associate, and the way in which my role has changed has been a valuable guide to navigating the transition from trainee to associate.
Ask Holly a question
View previous questions that Holly has already answered or ask your own