William Buck

Call: 2001

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    Education

    B.A. (Hons) Cambridge, LL.M (Commercial Law) Cambridge

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    Introduction

    William has a strong practice covering a wide spectrum of high value commercial disputes and civil fraud matters. He has been consistently recommended in Chambers and Partners (both in the UK and Global editions) as a leading commercial practitioner in his field. As well as undertaking high value work in the Court of Appeal and the High Court of England and Wales, he has developed a substantial international and cross-border practice, undertaking work in many other jurisdictions, such as the Isle of Man, Jersey, Italy, Gibraltar, Spain, Germany and the USA. He has also successfully acted in a range of arbitrations and adjudications.

    Commercial Dispute Resolution – London (Bar): “William is a strong senior junior, who is robust in his views and gets to the root of the issue quickly.” “He has a strong strategic mind and gives practical, commercial advice.”  – Chambers UK, 2023

    Leading junior in Commercial Litigation: “William is commercial and pragmatic. He has a very measured and effective style of advocacy (including cross-examination). He builds rapport with and tailors his submissions to the tribunal well. He gives clear and direct advice which clients understand and appreciate.” – Legal 500, 2023

    Leading junior in Fraud: Civil: “William is robust and takes no nonsense. He’s great at running a challenging case with challenging clients and getting the best out of it. He’s bright with sound strategic judgement.” – Legal 500, 2023

    • News
    • Reported cases

      The following are recent Reported cases or cases in the Court of Appeal. Due the nature of William’s practice, the majority of matters are confidential and cannot be disclosed.

      Cases

      • Kelly v Braid [2022] EWHC 1879 (Comm) – Successfully leading a junior in a 3 week trial which secured the dismissal of claim against two senior employees alleged to have dishonestly and in breach of fiduciary duty defrauded the owners of a group of businesses of £100m during an MBO process
      • Wild v Knight [2022] 2022/GCA/08 – Successfully acting for an administrator of a protected cell corporate structure in the Court of Appeal in Gibraltar against a challenge to her powers of investigation and an allegation that such powers were contrary to the Constitution of Gibraltar
      • Catalyst Investment Group v Lewinsohn [2022] EWHC 522 (Ch) – Securing strike out of proceedings sought to be resumed after a prolonged stay order as an abuse of process
      • Clarkson v Future Resources FZE [2022] EWCA Civ 230 – Leading a junior in a successful appeal which resulted in the striking out a £30m claim as an abuse of process, and additionally securing a judgment against the appellant in the sum of £8m
      • LA Micro Group Ltd v LA Micro Group Inc [2021] EWCA Civ 1429 – Leading a junior in successfully appealing a decision regarding beneficial ownership of a UK computer company, the appeal raising complex issues concerning the loss of beneficial interests under trusts and as to estoppel by conduct in judicial proceedings
      • Axon v O’Keeffe [2021] EWHC 2768 – Successfully obtaining the dismissal of a claim which alleged that there was a conspiracy to produce false documents for use in litigation
      • LA Micro Group Ltd v LA Micro Group Inc [2020] EWHC 1405 (Ch) – Leading a junior in acting on a jurisdictional challenge in the English High Court concerning a dispute about ownership of shares which raised issues as to both appropriate forum in circumstances of there being parallel Californian proceedings and whether the claimants had established a serious issue to be tried
      • Bravo v Amerisur Resources 2020 EWHC 125 (QB) & [2020] EWHC 203 (QB) – Acting on an application for a freezing injunction against a oil company made by Colombia farmers and on whether a Group Litigation Order should be granted
      • Clarkson v Future Resources FZE [2019] EWHC 3830 (Ch) – Successfully resisting an application to seek to lift a stay granted under a Tomlin Order, including claims that the terms of settlement constituted penalties and that a party had retained a beneficial interest in a secured property despite the settlement
      • Hunt v Caddick [2019] EWHC 2933 (Comm) – Acting on an application for pre-action disclosure and whether there was a sufficient evidential basis for the application
      • Cunningham v Ellis & Others [2018] EWHC 3199 (Comm) – successfully securing the early dismissal of a £39m Commercial Court fraud and conspiracy claim against three former directors of a company
      • Payroller Limited & Ors -v- Little Panda Consultants Limited & Ors [2018] EWHC 3161 (QB) – successfully resisting summary judgment in a £2.2m claim concerning matters of general importance as to the proper approach to be adopted when applying S.423 of the Insolvency Act (transaction defrauding creditors)
      • Kahlbetzer v VFX Financial PLC [2017] – Availability of Norwich Pharmacal relief and freezing injunction
      • James v National Westminster Bank PLC [2014] – Court of Appeal dismissal of allegations of fraud as against the bank made in the context of settlement negotiations
      • BMW Financial Services v Hart [2012] – Court of Appeal decision on the accrual of limitation periods in claims made pursuant to liquidated damages clauses
      • Thewlis v Groupama Insurance [2012] EWHC 3 (TCC) – decision on the validity of Part 36 offers and consequences of such an offer being invalid
      • Kaur v Kaur [2011] – £2m trust dispute before the Court of Appeal
      • Autoweld v Kito Enterprise [2010] EWCA Civ 1469 – US$12million dispute concerning the construction of gas pipelines in the Arabian Sea before the Court of Appeal
      • Westlaw v Boddy, SRA intervening [2010] EWCA Civ 929 – Court of Appeal consideration of illegal fee sharing agreements between solicitors and third parties, and limitation of restitutionary claims
      • Pinfold North v Humberside Fire Authority [2010] LGR 995 – decision concerning the legal status of ‘officers’ in local government and whether contractual relations with a third party was illegal and unenforceable
      • E. Capital Bank Limited v Rushton [2006] 1 WLR 899, [2006] 3 All ER 865 (CA) – Court of Appeal decision on a claim for conversion of chattels and the legal concept of good faith.
    • Commercial litigation

      William undertakes a range of high value commercial work, often with multi-jurisdictional aspects, including shareholder/director disputes, civil fraud, guarantee claims, agency disputes, trust litigation, sales of goods, contracts for the provisions of services and partnership disputes. Adopting a commercial approach to all instructions, William focuses on identifying and achieving the goals of the client in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner. Many of his instruction involve him leading teams of junior counsel, working closely with his instructing solicitors, foreign lawyers and experts. In urgent cases, instructions can be accepted and dealt with at very short notice, including outside of normal business hours, especially when interim relief is sought.

      Cases

      Recent and current examples of work include:

      • Old Mutual International v Leonteq & others – Leading a team of 4 counsel, William is instructed in respect of a claim against a swiss investment house and other defendants concerning the acquisition of £180m worth of structured investment products, with proceedings in the Commercial Court listed for a three month trial. The claim alleges fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of trust and payment of secret commission.
      • Dickinson – Leading a team of 3 counsel in defending a £40m group action claim relating to the sale of life assurance investment products where it is alleged that misrepresentations were made to induce the acquisition of the investments
      • OCS – Acting for a group of companies seeking recovery of circa $20m under contracts which have allegedly been frustrated by the war in Ukraine
      • Gatwick Airport v Dixon – Acting for Gatwick Airport in a dispute arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and as to whether commission fees were due from the Dixon Group
      • Bell v LA Mirco – Instructed on behalf of a Californian company in respect of a claim over ownership of a UK technology company, raising very complex issues of trust law, agency, estoppel and laches. Leading a junior, William has conducted two trials, a successful appeal in the Court of Appeal, with the matter now listed for a second appearance in the Court of Appeal at the end of 2022
      • A v B – Acting for two ultra-high net worth individuals in respect of an ongoing contentious trust dispute arising out of the payment of a €1.4billion settlement of foreign civil and criminal proceedings.
      • Bravo v Amurisur Resources [2020] – Acting for a Colombian oil producer resisting interim relief applications issued by 500 farmers pursuing losses arising from alleged oil pollution.
      • ENKA v Chubb [2019] – Acting for ENKA, the large Turkish construction group, in respect of urgent injunctive proceedings as against the Russian operation of the insurer Chubb, and associated companies, in respect of ongoing proceedings issued against ENKA in Russia.
      • Kyte v Vandermolem – Acting for a high profile businessman in respect of limited recourse loans made to a film finance company, who was then subject to a fraud by a leading US bank, with claims in both English and Florida law.
      • White v Fozard [2020] – Successfully acted as advocate under temporary licence in the Isle of Man on a 5 day trial concerning ownership of, and profits generated by, a group of US and Manx companies designing and supplying specialist software/hardware to the US defence and aviation industry.
      • A v B [2019] – Acted for a globally recognised trader in the commodities, equities and capital markets, in respect of proceedings against a group of former employees and associated companies for fraudulently conspiring to and then undertaking a fraud against the client and a range of tax authorities.
      • Lovell [2019] – Acting for a claimant pursuing a £30m claim against former partners concerning a joint venture to develop high-end assisted living properties with Goldman Sachs.
      • Acted as an ad-hoc Arbitrator for a 2-day ICC Arbitration concerning a Commercial Agency dispute [2018].
      • Jolyon Maugham KC v Professional Game Match Officials [2019] – Acting for PGMOL in resisting an claim by a high profile Queen’s Counsel who was seeking fees which were said to arise out of an unenforceable contingent fee arrangement
      • Hunt v Caddick [2018] – Instructed on an overage dispute concerning a £65m property development in London.
      • Creams Franchising v Butt [2018] – Counsel in 6 day High Court trial concerning allegations of fraudulent misrepresentation in respect of the sale and operation of a franchise business.
      • Cunningham v Ellis & Others [2018] EWHC 3199 (Comm) – successfully securing the early dismissal of a £39m Commercial Court fraud and conspiracy claim against three former directors of a company.
      • X v Y [2018] – Instructed on a US$40m arbitration claim under a guarantee and indemnity provision relating to a commercial property in Russia.
      • Representing a US resident Russian businessman in US$55m dispute over control of Manx companies, two Gulfstream jet and various other assets, with defendants in the Isle of Man, US, Monaco and Russia.
      • Representing high net worth individual and trust company concerning alleged mismanagement of the refurbishment of a superyacht.
      • Instructed in a £9m partnership/trust dispute concerning a family farming business and associated property interests.
      • Acted in a £4m claim against business consultants and a FTSE100 utility company concerning the alleged breach of restrictive covenants and inducing breach of contract.
    • Banking and financial services

      A substantial part of William’s practice is acting on behalf of a range of banking and financial services clients, both in the UK and internationally, including in the Isle of Man. He is regularly instructed by financial providers, including banks and life insurance companies on a range of matters, both contentious and non-contentious. Provided no conflict exists, William also accepts instructions from private clients/businesses in actions against institutions.

      In respect of contentious matters, disputes dealt cover a variety of different types of claims, ranging from debt recoveries, guarantee claims, asset recoveries (often involving a range of jurisdictions) to complex breach of fiduciary claims against directors/third parties and claims relating to trust property. Many claims also involve complex regulatory issues, often with multiple applicable jurisdictions and regulatory regimes, where such issues impact on the proper determination of the underlying dispute. Such regulatory issues include those arising from the distribution of financial products and services (including on a cross border basis), the regulation of agents and representatives and the conflicts which arise from competing regulatory regimes and common law/civil law principles.

      Given the nature of the work undertaken, William has developed a specific specialism in dealing with interlocutory matters, often on a without notice basis, including the obtaining of freezing orders, injunctions and orders for delivery up.

      Many of his instructions have an international element, with recent cases involving the application of Spanish, German, Swiss, Gibraltar, US, Russian and Turkish law, where parties and/or assets are located in a number of separate jurisdictions and where financial products and services have been provided on a cross-border basis.

      On a non-contentious basis, albeit frequently in the context of potential litigation, William advises a range of financial providers, both in the UK and internationally, as to regulatory issues and as to terms of business. The provision of such advice involves consideration of the various different regulatory and legal regimes which may impact on the clients’ business (both generically and as to specific pieces of business), again often in respect of cross-border business.

      Cases

      Recent examples of work include:

      • Dickinson v Quilter International [2020] – Acting for life assurance company against a class action involving 200 claimant seeking damages for £18m arising from the failure of 5 investment funds and the acquisition of portfolio bond products. The complex multi-jurisdictional claim concerns both the suitability of the bond products, alleged breaches of various regulatory obligations and as to the responsibility of the life company for the failure of third party investments
      • Old Mutual International v Leonteq & others – Instructed in respect of an ongoing claim against a swiss investment house and two other defendants concerning the acquisition of £180m worth of structured investment products, with proceedings in London and the Isle of Man. The claim alleges fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of trust and payment of secret commission.
      • Advising a major financial lender as to changes necessary to its UK based business model following regulatory changes introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority
      • Carter v OMI – USD15m dispute concerning performance/mis-selling of investment bonds, involving Turkish law, with Seychelles intermediary operating in Turkey/Malta, with arguments as to conflicts of law, breach of fiduciary duties and terms of performance
      • Pentera v OMI – two interconnected USD20m disputes concerning performance/mis-selling of investment bonds, with claims by (i) a trust and (ii) Russian based high net worth individuals, involving Russian law & UK regulations, with arguments as to conflicts of law, breach of fiduciary duties and terms of performance
      • A v H – Instructed by a financial institution concerning alleged £6m fraud within a range of investment products involving intermediaries in Hong Kong and Malaysia
      • O v C – Instructed in respect of a £2.4m alleged fraud concerning investments through corporate entities registered and administered in Gibraltar
    • Civil fraud

      William is instructed on a wide spectrum of civil fraud disputes, generally in a commercial context, such as the acquisition of investments and property, the obtaining of finance, and the sale and operation of businesses. With many of his instructions, William will lead either a junior or a team of juniors, working closely with his instructing solicitors and the client in giving pragmatic advice and providing effective representation. William has also successfully appeared before the Court of Appeal on more legally complex aspects of civil fraud disputes

      Cases

      Recent and current examples of work include:

      • Kelly v Braid – Successfully representing two senior employees during a three week trial in the Commercial Court in 2022, who were accused of fraudulently obtaining businesses from a family during an MBO process at a discount of at least £100m under their true value. William was instructed throughout the proceedings, leading Alfred Artley
      • Arena Television – William is instructed by a defendant to a £250m claim arising from the failure of Arena Television, where it is alleged that the client dishonestly facilitated over £1 billion worth of asset finance transactions
      • Clarkson v Future Resources FZE – Successfully acting for a range of lenders and businessmen accused of fraudulently conspiring to obtain the assets of the claimant valued in the sum of at least £30m. The litigation was particularly complex as it involved the alleged use of separate proceedings to pursue the fraud, including the obtaining of a allegedly shame settlement agreement. Leading Kristina Lukacova, William secured the dismissal of the claim in the Court of Appeal in 2022 as constituting an abuse of process, and also obtained judgment against the claimants in the sum of £8m
      • Inspirato – Acting initially for an investor and then the administrator of a protected cell company in respect of a £3m fraud concerning investments made through corporate entities registered and administered in Gibraltar. Whilst the matter is ongoing, in 2022 William successfully appeared in the Court of Appeal on legal issues as to the powers of an administrative and whether legislation was incompatible with the Constitution of Gibraltar
      • Axon – William secured the dismissal of a deceit claim where it was said that his client had conspired to product false documents which had been used to successfully defeat proceedings in the London High Court
      • A v B – Acted for a globally recognised trader in the commodities, equities and capital markets, in respect of proceedings against a group of former employees and associated companies for fraudulently conspiring to and then undertaking a fraud against the client and a range of tax authorities valued in the billions.
      • Fundingsecure v Luxmore [2020] – Acting in ongoing proceedings seeking damages for conspiracy to defraud a peer to peer lender in respect of numerous loans. The proceedings involved securing freezing injunctions against the conspirators, including a former director of the business
      • Payroller v Burton [2020] – Acted as trial counsel on a 7 day trial in the High Court in London in respect of the tracing of proceeds of a multi-million pound VAT Fraud, dealing with claims of dishonest assistance, knowing receipt and under Section 423 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
      • Old Mutual International v Leonteq & others – Instructed in respect of a claim against a swiss investment house and two other defendants concerning the acquisition of £180m worth of structured investment products, with proceedings in London and the Isle of Man. The claim alleges fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of trust and payment of secret commission.
      • Cunningham v Ellis & Others [2018] EWHC 3199 (Comm) – successfully securing the early dismissal of a £39m Commercial Court fraud and conspiracy claim against three former directors of a company.
      • Kahlbetzer v VFX Financial PLC [2017] – Obtained various forms of interim relief against multiple defendants, including a freezing injunction to trial, arising from a multi-jurisdictional email fraud perpetrated against a high net worth individual, and instructed as counsel in subsequent 4 day trial.
      • Carter v OMI – USD15m dispute concerning performance/mis-selling of investment bonds, involving Turkish law, with Seychelles intermediary operating in Turkey/Malta, with arguments as to conflicts of law, breach of fiduciary duties and terms of performance.
      • Pentera v OMI – two interconnected USD20m disputes concerning performance/mis-selling of investment bonds, with claims by (i) a trust and (ii) Russian based high net worth individuals, involving Russian law & UK regulations, with arguments as to conflicts of law, breach of fiduciary duties and terms of performance.
    • Commercial agency disputes

      Cases

      • Acted as an ad-hoc Arbitrator for a 2-day ICC Arbitration concerning a Commercial Agency dispute
      • Acting in numerous disputes concerning both the existence of alleged Commercial Agencies, breaches of their terms, effective termination, post-termination restrictions and compensatory consequences upon termination of the same. Such disputes have involved a wide range of sectors and have included the following:
        • Industrial chemical so Construction equipment
        • Waste steel recycling
        • Medical equipment, supplies & medicines
        • Veterinary supplies
        • Art dealerships
        • Supply to convenience foods outlets
        • Office and postage equipment
      • Many disputes acted upon involved cross-border agency arrangements (mostly, but not exclusively, as between EU member state)
      • Work regularly undertaken on a non-contentious basis advising on various commercial agency matters, including methods of remuneration, restrictions (including post-termination), termination, ADR provisions, extent of authority, indemnity provisions and similar. Drafting of agency agreements (either partial or fully) and settlement agreements also undertaken.
    • Professional negligence

      Part of William’s practice involves professional negligence disputes, often (but not exclusively) relating to the banking/financial services industry, including intermediaries, and as against solicitors (in both a contentious and non-contentious context).

      Cases

      Recent examples of work include:

      • Acting for a firm of stockbrokers in respect of a £1m professional negligence claim concerning an inheritance tax mitigation scheme
    • Insolvency

      Cases

      Recent examples of work include:

      • Payroller Limited & Ors -v- Little Panda Consultants Limited & Ors [2018] EWHC 3161 (QB) – successfully resisting summary judgment in a £2.2m claim concerning matters of general importance as to the proper approach to be adopted when applying S.423 of the Insolvency Act (transaction defrauding creditors)
    • Property

      William also undertakes a range of property related work, including disputes concerning the sale of land, options to purchase, trust disputes, overage agreements and easement disputes. This work is undertaken predominately for commercial clients involving non-residential premises and land.

      Cases

      Recent examples of work include:

      • Acting in a claim on an overage agreement concerning the sale of development land to a large national housebuilder
    • Publications
      • Contributor to ‘Sale and Supply of Goods and Services’, 1st Edition [2007] and 2nd Edition [2010], Sweet & Maxwell
      • William also regularly gives seminars to solicitors and other professionals on a range of commercial topics relating to his practice
    • What the directories say

      Commercial Dispute Resolution – London (Bar):“William is a strong senior junior, who is robust in his views and gets to the root of the issue quickly.” “He has a strong strategic mind and gives practical, commercial advice.”  – Chambers UK, 2023

      Leading junior in Commercial Litigation: “William is commercial and pragmatic. He has a very measured and effective style of advocacy (including cross-examination). He builds rapport with and tailors his submissions to the tribunal well. He gives clear and direct advice which clients understand and appreciate.” – Legal 500, 2023

      Leading junior in Fraud: Civil: “William is robust and takes no nonsense. He’s great at running a challenging case with challenging clients and getting the best out of it. He’s bright with sound strategic judgement.” – Legal 500, 2023

      Commercial Dispute Resolution – London (Bar):“Has huge command of the details in a case, and holds his own against more experienced silks.” “Judges like him.”  – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2022

      Leading junior in Fraud: Civil: “William rolls his sleeves up and gets on with it. Straight-talking and creative thinking, he easily does the job of a good QC – he is a good advocate.” – Legal 500, 2022

      Commercial Dispute Resolution – London (Bar):“Has a strong commercial head on his shoulders.” “He is very creative in his thinking and is very helpful, bright and responsive.”  – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2021

      Commercial Dispute Resolution – London (Bar): “William is very commercial, and he finds a way to make the law work in his client’s favour.” “He is very pleasant, approachable and user-friendly. Clients like him and he works well as part of a legal team.”  – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2020

      Commercial Dispute Resolution – North Eastern (Bar):“He is very efficient, user-friendly and solid on his feet.”  – Chambers UK, 2020

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