Legal Brief: Summer sales

One bills itself as the world’s most famous department store, selling anything from diamond encrusted sunglasses to gold bars; the other offers a hotch-potch range of products from Hula Hoops to toilet cleaner and garden gnomes all retailing at just £1.

There may not appear to be much common ground between Harrods and Poundland but these polar opposites of the British retail sector have both just come under new overseas ownership.

News of the £1.5bn sale of the luxury Knightsbridge department store to the Qatari royal family last weekend came as a surprise but two firms rubbing their hands together at the deal where Herbert Smith and Latham & Watkins. Both bagged lead roles on the sale of the iconic store to the investment arm of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) (see story).

Iconic is not a word that springs to mind when confronted with the jumble of cut-price products that makes up a Poundland store, but its sale ended in a deal that didn’t require any bank debt at all (a rarity nowadays). Clifford Chance and Weil Gotshal & Manges have both taken prime roles on the all-equity sale to US-based private equity house Warburg Pincus (see story).

Meanwhile, litigators are choking on the news that personal injury firm Leigh Day & Co has made a £105m costs claim against Trafigura (see story).Trafigura was the company at the centre of last year’s ruckus between The Guardian and Carter Ruck over the reporting of remarks made in Parliament about the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast.

Leading litigators have dubbed it the “largest costs claims in legal history” – so make sure you take note because it’s sure to come up as an interview question.