The reputational risk that goes hand-in-hand with high-profile disputes and the uncertainty around costs are just two reasons why FTSE 100 companies want to stay out of court. Arbitration is now the favoured course of redress when negotiations fail, with court outings the reserve of the few.
But sometimes litigation is unavoidable, so when the very biggest companies need someone to fight their corner, which law firms do they turn to?
According to data collected for The Lawyer Market Intelligence tool, less than half – 46 to be exact – of FTSE 100 companies spent time in court in England and Wales between January 2012 and July 2015. Those 46 companies were involved in 178 court cases against commercial parties. A total of 53 firms were instructed along with 112 QCs from around 60 sets, and 116 juniors.
Herbert Smith Freehills was the most popular law firm among FTSE 100 companies on High Court and Court of Appeal cases.
The firm was instructed on 11 cases brought by FTSE 100 companies with reported judgments between January 2012 and July 2015, substantially more than any other firm.
Hogan Lovells picked up instructions on seven cases, while Addleshaw Goddard, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Clyde & Co, DLA Piper and Norton Rose Fulbright advised on five cases each.
Magic circle firms trailed this group; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters were both instructed on four FTSE 100 cases in the time period, with Clifford Chance working on three. Allen & Overy made no appearances for FTSE 100 companies in that time period.
Telecoms giant BT Group was the most litigious FTSE 100 company, going to court 23 times between January 2012 and July 2015.
Firms with most litigation instructions from FTSE 100 companies
|Firm||Number of instructions|
|Herbert Smith Freehills||11|
|Berwin Leighton Paisner||5|
|Clyde & Co||5|
|Norton Rose Fulbright||5|
|Simmons & Simmons||4|
|SJ Berwin / KWM||4|
|Slaughter and May||4|