Paul’s successful submission focussed primarily on his trailblazing collective competition law proceedings (CPOs) practice, as the only QC in this country to have led on the first five major contested CPO hearings, both for claimants and for defendants. In particular, Paul led a team of other silks and juniors on behalf of the opt-out claimants in Walter Hugh Merricks CBE v Mastercard Inc., the first mass consumer claim successfully brought under the new collective action regime. Paul was pivotal in determining strategy for the case and considers acting on behalf of 46 million consumers in the UK’s biggest ever damages action and leading the team to a successful conclusion in the Supreme Court as one of the greatest challenges of his career to date. The case was instrumental in The Lawyer recognising Paul as Barrister of the Week and including him in The Lawyer Hot 100 2021.
However, Paul’s case highlights in 2020 were not just about competition and collective actions; it also reflects his pre-eminence as a Sports law barrister. In July 2020, Paul led the successful appeal before the CAS by Manchester City FC against the decision by UEFA to impose a two-year ban from the Champions League. The result saw the CAS overturn the previous decision, thus enabling the club to progress through the competition to the Final in 2020-2021. Similarly, Paul was heavily involved in assisting Mercedes GP to a seventh double world championship in the world of Formula 1.
The Lawyer Barrister of the Week article best summarised Paul’s exceptional year and his suitability for this award, with the following: “It has been a year in which he has helped shift the legal landscape for good and keep his football club competing among Europe’s elite. There is no doubt that these results only come round once in a Blue Moon.”
The winner of the Barrister of the Year and the other categories will be announced at a digital awards ceremony taking place on Tuesday 2nd November.