PCB Byrne LLP
1 Plough Place
EC4A 1DE, London, England
Elizabeth Seborg is a top-tier asset recovery practitioner, who comes recommended by sources as “a phenomenal lawyer in the space”.
Elizabeth is a commercial litigator specialising in high-value, complex claims and asset recovery. She achieves pragmatic, cost-effective solutions for clients.
Her recent work includes representing two individuals in an ongoing $2 billion multi-jurisdictional dispute and obtaining recoveries for international investors in a fraudulent real estate development scheme
Elizabeth graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and the College of Law, London. She trained and practiced at an international law firm before joining PCB Byrne LLP.
What do you wish you had known before you started out in asset recovery and white-collar crime practice?
That the people I assumed must know what they were talking about often did not.
What do you enjoy most about your work in asset recovery?
Watching it all come together in court. Everything you’ve done up to that point gets tested – it’s the moment of truth.
You are on the executive committee of VOCAL (Victims of Crime Association of Lawyers). What are the association's current goals in the space, and how can these be achieved?
We aim to educate lawyers on the potential remedies available to victims of crime in different jurisdictions. For example, in some continental European jurisdictions, a victim of crime is entitled to be advised by a lawyer who is paid for by the state, and who can participate in the trial of the defendant and seek compensation for the victim. It’s very different from the position in England and Wales!
VOCAL holds an annual conference in a different European location each year. We have a discussion-fuelled one day conference, then move on to an extremely enjoyable social program. We are also building up our website content to assist lawyers looking for a contact in a particular jurisdiction or information.
How have frauds evolved over the last five years, and in what ways have asset recovery specialists had to adapt as a result?
Fraud hasn’t changed much in 2000 years: liars take other people’s money by whatever means are available in whatever century they happen to be in. The speed with which money moves around and changes form, and the avalanche of electronic data generated in litigation are the biggest challenges for recovery lawyers today.
What skills will be key for new or aspiring practitioners to develop in order to succeed in asset recovery practice?
People skills will continue to be key. At the heart of any dispute, no matter how technical, are people with emotions. Your job is to be the calm in the eye of the storm, listening, absorbing any anxieties of the client and other members of team, and delivering the win.
Scepticism is a critical skill. Sometimes clients need to be protected from themselves, and their advisors. Questioning and testing ideas is essential throughout the case, to make sure the strategy adapts as the case develops.
What are the main considerations when developing strategies for the international search and recovery of assets?
Finding assets in the right jurisdiction. Recovering them at a sensible cost. Asset recovery is not rocket science.
If you could introduce a legal reform that aided asset recovery cases, what would it be and why?
Active prosecution of fraud by the UK authorities, supported by proper funding.
Currently there is almost nothing we can do for clients who have lost money but can’t afford to litigate, or where the loss isn’t big enough to justify the costs or interest a litigation funder. This is especially so when often the monies have gone overseas to less regulated jurisdictions.
These cases are crying out for investigation and prosecution by the authorities, who have powers to obtain information here, and from abroad. But at the minute, it’s just not happening.
Looking back over your career, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
Getting a favourable judgment or settlement that leads to real recovery for a client always feels good. But it’s the sting of the case where I couldn’t get something resembling justice for a client that remains.