In 1998, I went to Oxford University to study English. At that time, I hadn’t really thought much about what I wanted to do beyond completing my studies. My parents suggested to me I might want to consider law because I’m quite an argumentative person! I applied for a vacation scheme at Herbert Smith Freehills and had a fantastic time, so I signed up for a training contract before completing a conversion course in Guildford and spending a year in Nottingham studying for the LPC. After completing four seats as a trainee, I decided to pursue a litigation career in disputes. Now, I’m a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills – it’s been an incredible experience.
Our client, an international technology company, entered into a contract with a government department to take over the management of a large IT system. It entered into a sub-contract with another technology company whereby the sub-contractor would supply new high-specification data centres. However, the sub-contractor missed milestones and as a result of the delay in connecting the new data centres there was a risk of a critical failure in the IT system. Our client argued that it was the sub-contractor's obligation to ensure that that data centres were connected on time and terminated the sub-contract for breach.
The client initially asked me to advise them on their rights to terminate the sub-contract and claim losses from the sub-contractor. We reviewed the contract and other documents relating to the dispute, and interviewed relevant individuals in order to prepare detailed advice. After the client terminated the sub-contract, we prepared a letter of claim as a precursor to commencing legal proceedings. The sub-contractor denied that it was at fault and counter-claimed for its losses as a result of what it said was a wrongful termination. I liaised with the project team at the client to marshall all the factual information and documentation necessary to advance the legal claim in the strongest way possible and rebut allegations made by the sub-contractor in pre-action correspondence. The sub-contractor proposed a one-day mediation which was organised and which I attended with the client. Various documentation and information was exchanged on a without prejudice basis prior to the mediation in order to assist the parties in discussing potential terms of settlement.
Although no settlement was reached at the mediation, further commercial discussions took place afterwards and a favourable settlement was reached. The parties therefore avoided litigation and the client was able to focus on working with its customer to deliver the IT project.