Before I had any meaningful appreciation of the concept of law, my parents christened me ‘pocket lawyer’ in recognition of my perhaps annoying ability as a child to produce a counterargument for any reproof at will. As I grew, my understanding of and interest in law grew also which led to my decision to study the subject at university. Upon graduating, I took a non-traditional route into private practice. My commitment to social mobility and empowering young people led me to volunteer for a year with the City Year UK charity. I spent an incredible year, primarily coaching and mentoring at-risk students, which culminated in a position at The Royal Household. In the intervening period between receiving my training contract offer and my start date, I worked for the International Development Committee at the House of Commons. I then studied the accelerated LPC and commenced my training with Herbert Smith Freehills shortly after.
Soon after starting my first seat in the Disputes division, I was enlisted to assist on an international dispute where the claimant alleged that our client, the defendant, had committed various material breaches of contract. If the allegations were successfully brought, our client faced significant economic ramifications and reputational damage.
As the matter unfolded, the claimant’s solicitors made a successful application to come off the record, which consequently meant that the claimant no longer had legal representation or an address for service in the UK. Shortly afterwards, the claimant sought to discontinue its claims against our client but did so defectively. This left us in the unprecedented situation of having no opposing counsel and a claimant disinterested in its claims with no address for service in the UK. We sent a letter to the court setting out these circumstances, requesting strike out of the claimant's claims on the papers. The court responded by setting a date for us to present our application for strike out in person.
In preparation for our court appearance, I took ownership of three work streams: creating and submitting our application bundles; managing the creation of our summary of costs incurred (which we sought to claim back from the claimant) and drafting the accompanying case chronology.
Ultimately, and in spite of the peculiar surrounding circumstances, our application for the strike out of the claimant’s claims proved successful. The experience of working on this dispute cemented in my mind the importance of preparedness. One of the exciting aspects of litigation is responding to the strategy and arguments of the other side. What unfolded in this particular case was quite difficult to conceive, let alone foresee. However, as our team, collectively and individually, were thoroughly prepared, we were able to react promptly to achieve an excellent result for our client!