PCB Byrne LLP
1 Plough Place
EC4A 1DE, London, England
Trevor Mascarenhas is distinguished as "one of the most experienced fraud solicitors" in the market and a top-tier litigator.
Known for creative strategies, Trevor has 25 years of experience as a litigator, 20 of them as a partner of one of the leading boutique dispute firms in London, PCB Byrne. His multi-jurisdictional work on heavyweight litigation, has led to recommendations by the major directories for commercial litigation, banking litigation, civil fraud and asset recovery. He is also a former winner of the Client Choice Award for Arbitration and ADR in the UK.
How has commercial litigation practice changed since you started practising?
Shortly after I started, new civil procedural rules came into force, leading to much more case management by the court. This has continued with developments like costs budgeting and new disclosure rules.
The use of technology has also changed dramatically. Hand delivery of floppy disks and sending of faxes were the main ways of communicating and transferring data when I started, and disclosure was done by manually reviewing piles of paper documents.
There were also nowhere near the number of boutique dispute resolution practices that currently exist, acting in many of the biggest commercial cases in London.
In what ways does PCB Byrne LLP differ from competitors?
We are collaborative, bouncing ideas off each other on cases, but not to the extent of having a uniform approach. Often one sees other firms adopting a particular style of fighting a case, such as trying to bludgeon their opponents with voluminous correspondence. We try to be more surgical, assess the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case, pick the right battles to have, and plan and execute accordingly. It leads to successful outcomes and costs savings for our clients.
How prevalent is third-party funding in commercial litigation?
There is a significant body of cases that are funded. They tend to be cases against deep-pocket defendants, with competition and securities class actions being particularly favoured. There are also an increasing number of asset recovery cases being funded.
How do you approach complex litigations across multiple jurisdictions?
Getting the right team in place and ensuring co-ordination is critical. It is also important to understand, and where appropriate test, local law advice, having regard to the fact that judicial determinations in one jurisdiction may have a beneficial or adverse impact in another. Thus, what might from the local lawyer’s perspective be a sensible course, may not be when viewing the overall picture.
What does excellent client service look like to you?
It is important to understand the client’s needs, to be clear and concise in the advice given, and to be responsive to queries raised. Most clients will appreciate that you have other commitments, but they do not want to think they are being ignored and treated less favourably than other clients. You need to be fully committed to fight the corner of every client.
You have worked on several high-profile cases throughout your career. Which of these has been the most challenging and why?
That’s a difficult one to answer without getting into questions of privilege. There are many cases where under the surface, there are a whole host of complexities. As a litigator you need to work out how to deal with them and present a case that, as far as possible, does not reveal the difficulties. I therefore cannot go into details of the most challenging case.
Abela v Baadarani may not have been the most challenging, but it was a case involving a difficult challenge: the Court of Appeal had unanimously found against my clients, setting aside an order for retrospective service of proceedings in Lebanon. To obtain permission to appeal, we had to persuade the Supreme Court that not only was there a reasonable prospect that the Court of Appeal was wrong, but that the case raised an issue of law of public importance.
At the time I recall a leading commercial barrister saying there was no chance a service issue would meet that requirement. We did however persuade the Supreme Court otherwise, and went on to win the case. The fact that the judgment of the Supreme Court has been cited in well over a hundred reported cases since, tends to show we were right on the issue of public importance.
What excites you most about the future of commercial litigation practice and why?
The law has to adapt to keep up with developments in finance and technology. With constant growth in the use of technology, litigators will be at the cutting edge of changes in the law. New and interesting challenges lie ahead.
What do you hope to achieve in the future?
I would like to see the strengthening of the PCB Byrne brand and the development of the next generation of litigation lawyers within it. I hope to assist in their learning process, the same way that I learnt much from more senior lawyers.