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Q&A with Alistair Kennedy - Partner, Litigation

Throughout his career Alistair has conducted a wide range of commercial disputes representing major corporates, small and medium sized businesses and individuals. He has dealt with many complex, high value claims in the High Court and Appeal Courts, including several cases that have been reported and/or attracted significant press attention.

Alistair has particular experience of claims against major banks for companies and individuals. Having acted for several banks early in his career, Alistair brings a unique approach to these claims.

What’s the biggest development you’ve seen in the legal world during your career?

Funding of litigation has changed dramatically.  When I started my career “no win, no fee” agreements were rarely used by commercial litigators and it was very unusual to see third parties funding cases.  Damages-based agreements (where a lawyer can help a claimant with their case on the basis that if successful the lawyer receives a small part of the damages) were unlawful for litigation.  This meant that many good cases fell away because they could not be financed through to trial. However, through a combination of changes to the applicable law and rules together with commercial firms being more innovative, funding of claims has changed significantly.  A new industry has sprung up of third-party funders and After The Event insurers and it means claimants (and their lawyers) have many more options than before.

What law would you like to see changed?

There has been a lot of progress in getting good cases funded and damages based agreements for litigation were made legal in 2013. However, one of the big stumbling blocks remains the Regulations that govern these types of agreements. Commercial clients have been asking me for this type of agreement on costs throughout my entire career - they want to know that their lawyer is taking risk with them and invested in achieving the best possible recovery. Unfortunately, the Regulations are unclear and have been heavily criticised.  This means many lawyers are reluctant to use them and they are more risky than they should be.  Clarification of the Regulations has been expected for several years, but nothing has been done yet.

What is the most exciting work you’ve ever done?

As a litigator, the job is about winning cases at trial or resolving them earlier if I can get the right terms for my client.  Whilst a lot of cases don’t get to trial, it’s something which you always have an eye on.  Trials of cases with allegations of fraud and dishonesty tend to be the most exciting – you never quite know what is going to happen until cross-examination of witnesses starts.

Who in the legal world do you most admire?

One of the lawyers I used to work with. However good or bad a case was, they would find a way to add value and get the best result possible for our client.  That required a lot of pragmatism and practicality, and I have tried to build that into the work I do for my clients.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?

Find an area of law that interests you and plays to your strengths.  Watch the more experienced lawyers around you and to try to learn something from each of them.  You can then put all those different pieces together and turn it into a style and approach that works for you.

We can help you with your litigation requirements. Please call the team today on 0113 849 4000. They would love to talk to you.  

About the Author

Alistair Kennedy

Partner

Throughout his career Alistair has conducted a wide range of commercial disputes representing…

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