PCB Byrne LLP
1 Plough Place
EC4A 1DE, London, England
Anthony Riem is highly respected for his top-tier knowledge in complex multi-jurisdictional disputes.
Anthony has a long track record in acting in high-value international commercial disputes for governments, government agencies, multi-nationals, corporates and high-net-worth individuals across a variety of industry sectors. He has particular expertise in acting for financial institutions in recovering their distressed debt and non-performing loans. He is known for providing solutions to the most complex of problems and in 2021 was named by the Times as one of Britain’s most sought after lawyers.
What first inspired you to pursue a legal career, and why did you specialise as a litigator?
My first job was as a runner in criminal legal aid practice in south-east London and that gave me the taste for attending court, witnessing interviews and the general cut and thrust of contentious work. It was then a short leap to choosing to become a litigator because of the variety of work on offer.
What qualities make for a successful commercial litigator?
As many of the following attributes as possible - an inquisitive and open mind, an ability to listen, to ask the right questions, to keep perspective and think in the tightest of situations, perseverance, thick skin, and a sense of humour. Remember looking after your client’s interests and complying with your duties as an officer of the court enables you to provide the best representation for your client.
What unique difficulties arise in disputes involving joint venture partners and shareholders? How do you address these?
Whilst so much depends on the existence and quality of the underlying documentation, other fundamentals include the extent to which the trust of the parties has been damaged by the issues in dispute and the extent they need to work together in the future to preserve the value of the underlying business. There is also the issue of whether the losses suffered by shareholders are losses they can properly claim.
It is therefore essential at the outset to clearly understand the client’s objectives and whether they can be realistically achieved by the issue of proceedings and, if so, the extent to which their issue prejudices recovery.
Your clients span from multinational corporations and government agencies to private clients. What similarities and differences should be considered when representing and advising these varying client bases?
It is important to understand the reporting and decision-making structure within any organisation to ensure that the advice and information is packaged and delivered in such a way that the ultimate decision maker understands the advice provided and is able to effectively consider and discuss it both with you and others within the client.
Ultimately, all clients want clarity of communication in a language in which they are comfortable, so that they can make informed decisions. Clarity of communication includes clarity of advice, which is after all what clients pay us to do.
How effective are hybrid hearings, and what challenges do they pose?
They are very effective for most case management issues where the parties should be focused on providing solutions to the court as to how to resolve what are essentially administrative matters, saving time and cost. It is definitely very helpful to be able to watch the court proceedings more closely, rather than seeing the back of counsel’s head and a distant view of the judge.
They also work well for more substantive interim applications, such as applications for freezing orders but consideration does have to be given to ensure that there is compliance with the duty of full and frank disclosure. It is important to ensure that there is proper messaging system between counsel and solicitors so that any points that arise can be dealt with.
Where hybrid hearings become more challenging is when live evidence is to be given or where interpreters are needed. In those circumstances, it is important to preserve the integrity of the court process to ensure witnesses are not assisted and proper cross examination of witnesses can take place.
How, if at all, are rising inflation rates affecting the market for third-party funding? How can litigators work alongside funders to the benefit of both sides?
Whether inflation impacts upon any funder depends in part upon whether they are raising funds now or are committing monies they have already raised. Ultimately, the market and the availability of cases that funders wish to fund dictates the rates of return on investment that funders may receive. Our experience is that there is far more funding available than the cases which funders wish to fund and it is therefore currently a buyer’s market.
There are likely to be more developments in the funding market with new entrants joining and others departing as investors take stock of whether their investments have been successful as they would wish.
What technologies are having the greatest impact on litigation proceedings in the financial sector?
Much has been said about AI and undoubtedly this will have a huge impact on how law is practised with lawyers interpreting big data and seeking how best to exploit and develop the outcomes it predicts. However, it is unclear how long it will take before this happens. In the meantime, the focus remains on technology that cuts the costs of disclosure.
What are the main challenges facing litigators when it comes to the enforcement of judgements today?
The key issue is whether there are assets against which to enforce the judgment. So often judgments are obtained, and substantial costs incurred, without proper consideration being given as to their recoverability. Identifying assets before proceedings are issued is a worthwhile expense to incur as is considering whether the client has a choice in deciding where to issue proceedings, which can make the difference between whether or not a judgment is ultimately enforceable.