PCB Byrne LLP
1 Plough Place
EC4A 1DE, London, England
Anthony Riem is a highly acclaimed asset recovery specialist in the market, and comes recommended as “a brilliant lawyer for offshore litigation”.
Anthony is the senior partner of PCB Byrne. In 2021, he was named as one of the Hot 100 Lawyers by The Lawyer magazine and one of the most sought-after lawyers in England by The Times. He is top ranked by the main legal directories in global asset recovery and civil fraud and is a member of Fraudnet, the International Chamber of Commerce’s global network of international asset recovery specialists and the Commercial Fraud Lawyers Association.
Do you think the coronavirus pandemic has aided debtor evasion? If so how?
Yes, but not in the sense that debtors have used the coronavirus pandemic to avoid their liabilities. Rather, it has disrupted the ability of creditors to identify and pursue debtors because of the need to focus on the challenges they face in running their own businesses. As a result, pursuing debtors has slipped down their priority list.
How are creditor discovery tools being utilised to the benefit of debtors and why is this a cause for concern among creditors?
Perhaps the biggest cause for concern is the limiting of the scope of Norwich Pharmacal orders in international asset recovery.
Whereas previously such an order could be sought against a third party as part of the process of identifying assets, it cannot now be used by overseas creditors; save in limited circumstances.
This is short-sighted – at a time when it is more important than ever for there to be a coordinated and joined-up approach to international asset recovery, this is an unwelcome development.
Do you think that creditors will be more reluctant to pursue legal action against creditors in the current economic climate? If so, what is PCB Byrne doing to instil confidence in/reassure clients?
The current climate has focused clients on the importance of not spending a lot of money on legal costs only to obtain an unenforceable judgment or award. However, our advice has always been predicated on obtaining effective commercial solutions. No one wants to throw good money after bad and we apply that maxim when we advise our clients.
In addition, we have considerable experience in obtaining funding either for clients who need money to bring claims or where a client simply prefers to share the risk and reward.
How does PCB Byrne set itself apart from competitors in the market?
We have unrivalled strength and depth in asset recovery. We have more recognised experts across the main legal directories than any other law firm and are mentoring the next generation of asset recovery experts. Our track record demonstrates our expertise in asset recovery built up over the last 30 years. This means that when clients approach us with their problems, we have an unrivalled bank of expertise to draw upon that enables us to provide solutions to those problems on the most cost-effective basis.
In what ways is technology being used to grow asset recovery services and what are the associated risks involved in this?
In asset recovery work, time is of the essence. The quicker steps can be taken to investigate how any fraud was committed, the potential targets, and the location of potential assets; the greater the prospects of recovery. Technology, properly used, can greatly assist in this process on a cost-effective basis by not only analysing information held by clients but also identifying and searching other potentially relevant information. It can make the difference between recovering and not recovering assets. However, by far the greatest risk is simply to rely on technology to carry out this process without being directed as to how it is used and then to interpret the data it provides. It is the role of the expert to direct and interpret that data and decide how it assists in the asset recovery process and what further enquiries need to be undertaken.
What do you find most challenging about your role as an asset recovery lawyer?
Notwithstanding the increased use of remote meetings, maintaining effective communication is particularly challenging as asset recovery often requires coordinating teams of experts such as investigators, overseas lawyers, forensic experts, often within very tight time frames.
What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?
By its very nature, asset recovery is extremely challenging as defendants often hide their assets to prevent their recovery. Successful asset recovery requires creativity, perseverance, a hunger to find the truth, and a willingness to push the legal boundaries to create new law. Ultimately, being an asset recovery lawyer is a vocation. If you simply regard it as a job, then asset recovery is not for you.
How do you see your practice area developing over the next five years?
The rapid development of AI will present extraordinary opportunities. What AI offers and how it can be best harnessed will be perhaps the single greatest challenge to all lawyers, not just those specialising in asset recovery. Those who can interpret big data to their client’s advantage, should establish a clear advantage over their competitors. In addition, those involved in facilitating the circumvention of sanctions by which the assets of designated persons are frozen, will undoubtedly be targeted on an international basis by regulators.