2022 felt like a welcome return to normality in a lot of ways, with hybrid working, and a lot more meetings and networking being in person. However, COVID continued to make itself known, if only through a continuing flow of COVID related instructions. We also welcomed a number of new members to the team, in the UK as well as in the Middle East and Caribbean.
Following significant growth in the UK team in 2021, we saw a large increase in the number of inquiries in 2022, across both disputes and investigations and asset recovery. In particular, we saw a steady flow of shareholder disputes, post completion Share Purchase Agreement disputes (twice as many as 2021), civil fraud matters and matrimonial instructions. Our eDiscovery team also grew significantly during the year, as it became established in the market.
Last year, we challenged ourselves to predict what would happen in 2022. Which of our predictions come true. And which didn’t?
A significant upturn in fraud and disputes arising from the pandemic
Yes. We have seen a particular rise in fraud matters (both civil and criminal) as well as an increase in disputes arising from COVID related matters, including litigated business interruption claims.
An increase in claims and disputes between businesses, between shareholders, and in particular between buyers and sellers of businesses in a buoyant deals market (completion accounts, earnouts and warranty claims)
Yes. The predicted increase in shareholder disputes and disputes between buyers and sellers of businesses has certainly been evident throughout 2022.
A significant increase in our exposure to arbitration, particularly cross-border M&A related matters
Yes. We had a considerable increase in post-M&A dispute work internationally.
Senior members of the team giving evidence under cross-examination in virtual trials continuing to do so post-pandemic
Partly true. In the majority of cases, “normality” has returned, and evidence is being given in person rather than virtually.
Legal document review matters will take advantage of the AI and Technology Assisted Review features contained in eDiscovery review platforms
Yes, 50% of our cases utilised one or more of the various ‘assisted review’ features of the eDiscovery platform that we use.
Our first environmental, social and governance-related dispute
No, but whilst we don’t think this has dropped off the radar, businesses have been focusing on other challenges.
Predictions for 2023
Our pipeline looks strong for 2023 and we look forward to the team growing further. Here are our predictions for 2023.
- An increase in insolvency appointments will lead to rises in litigation and fraud related work
- A rise in matrimonial-related valuations due to new ‘no fault’ laws
- An increase in employees defrauding employers as the cost-of-living crisis bites
- Covid business interruption claims will increasingly be litigated (and settled close to Trial dates)
- Insurance fraud will increase
- Generally, there will be an Increase in people pursuing disputes
- Declines in the property market may lead to more property development disputes