Practice

Lara has a busy commercial chancery practice specialising in the full range of Chambers’ work, including commercial litigation, company law, insolvency, banking and financial services, regulatory work and civil fraud. She also has particular experience and knowledge of energy-related matters.

Lara is ranked as a Rising Star in Tier 1 in Commercial Litigation in Legal 500 2022; she is quoted in the directory as ‘ Very clever and inordinately hard working. She does a fantastic job.’ She was also named as one of 19 barristers in The Lawyer’s ‘Hot 100’ for 2022, being described as ‘the barrister of the moment’ for her work on insolvencies in the energy sector.

Lara is available for instructions at all stages of proceedings, in every level of the civil courts and for arbitration work. She has exceptionally substantial trial experience and of working in big teams of counsel and solicitors for someone of her Call. She regularly appears in the High Court as both sole and junior counsel. Particularly notable matters include:

  • Commercial litigation: Travelport & Ors v WEX (2020) (led by Richard Hill QC, Sa’ad Hossain QC and Andrew de Mestre QC): An expedited 7-day hybrid trial in the Commercial Court concerning a $1.7 billion acquisition and the interpretation of a complex material adverse change clause in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. This remains the leading case in England and Wales on the interpretation of MAC clauses. Lara frequently advises in relation to the interpretation of contracts for both large and small matters.
  • Banking/financial services and company law: Sharp and Ors v Blank and Ors (2017-2018) (led by Richard Hill QC): A 12-week trial in the Chancery Division, in which the shareholders of Lloyds Bank sued Lloyds’ former directors in claims of negligence and misrepresentation in the context of Lloyds’ takeover of HBOS in 2008. This featured in The Lawyer’s “Top 20 Cases” of 2017. Lara is often called upon to advise in respect of other financial services matters, including breaches of FSMA and the FCA Handbook.  She was instructed by the FCA in relation to a rare application for special administration of an investment bank: Re AFX Markets (2019). She also frequently advises in respect of company law matters, particularly involving shareholder disputes (including s. 994 petitions) and breaches of directors’ duties.
  • Insolvency: Gas and Electricity Markets Authority v GB Energy Supply Ltd (2016) (led by Nicholas Cox) and  Gas and Electricity Markets Authority v Rutherford Energy Supply Limited (2019) (sole counsel): Urgent Part 8 claims brought by OFGEM in the High Court for declarations of corporate insolvency in respect of energy supply companies under s. 123 of the Insolvency Act 1986 and the Energy Acts 2004 and 2011. Lara has successfully appeared in the Interim Applications Court in over 20 cases for OFGEM in cases concerning insolvent energy companies, the vast majority of which she has appeared as sole counsel. She is also instructed (with Joseph Wigley) in respect of In the matter of Derek Quinlan, a c. €40 million bankruptcy petition currently listed for a 15-day trial in June 2022.
  • Civil fraud: Autonomy and Ors v Lynch and Anor (2019-2020) (led by Robert Miles QC, Richard Hill QC and Sharif Shivji): Acting for Dr Mike Lynch, Autonomy’s former CEO, in a claim by Autonomy in excess of $8 billion for alleged accounting fraud. The 93-day trial took place before Hildyard J in the Chancery Division and featured in The Lawyer’s “Top 20 Cases” of 2019. It remains the UK’s biggest civil fraud trial to date.

She has experience of and welcomes instructions concerning disputes in other jurisdictions, and is a registered Part II practitioner in the DIFC.

Her priority is to give practical advice tailored to suit the client’s individual needs.

 

Practice areas

Commercial dispute resolution

Commercial litigation forms a substantial part of Lara’s practice. She has experience in a wide range of commercial litigation matters, both in the Commercial Court and the Chancery Division, and her work frequently features contractual disputes. Lara is ranked as a Rising Star in Tier 1 in Commercial Litigation in Legal 500 2022; she is quoted in the directory as ‘ Very clever and inordinately hard working. She does a fantastic job. ’

She recently appeared (led by Richard Hill QC, Sa’ad Hossein QC and Andrew de Mestre QC) for the Claimants in the 7-day expedited trial of Travelport & Ors v WEX [2020] EWHC 2670, which concerned the interpretation of a complex material adverse change clause in the $1.7 billion purchase of two travel payments companies, against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic. Examples of past and ongoing instructions include:

  • Acting for the claimants in Tavira Securities Limited v Re Point Ventures FZCO and Ors, a c. £4 million claim in the DIFC concerning a breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy in the context of a securities trade.
  • Advising and acting for the defendant sellers in a High Court claim for breach of warranty in a c. $50 million business purchase agreement.
  • Advising and acting for the claimant in a High Court claim for unpaid debts in a business partnership of London nightclubs.
  • Advising on the interpretation of a MAC clause in the context of a multi-million euro Formula One sponsorship agreement.
  • Advising on and acting for the claimant company in a six-figure High Court claim for (amongst other things) breaches of confidentiality.
  • Advising on the merits of a potential breach of contract claim for failure to settle an invoice for a package of software services.
  • Advising in respect of a dispute over the interpretation and application of a deferred consideration clause in the context of a business purchase agreement.
Insolvency & restructuring

Lara has a strong interest in insolvency work. She was a contributor to Lexis Nexis’s Insolvency Rules 2016 forms, replacing the prescribed forms under the 1986 rules, and is a contributor to the well-respected practitioner text Loose & Griffiths on Liquidators (9th ed., 2019). She regularly deals with proceedings under the Insolvency Act 1986, in the context of both company and personal insolvency. Examples of past and recent instructions include:

  • Acting on behalf of OFGEM for urgent Part 8 claims in the Interim Applications Court of the High Court for declarations of insolvency under s. 123 of the Insolvency Act 1986. Lara has appeared in more than 20 such cases, including most notably Gas and Electricity Markets Authority v GB Energy Supply Ltd [2016] EWHC 3341 (Ch) (alongside Nicholas Cox) and Gas and Electricity Markets Authority v Rutherford Energy Supply Limited [2019] EWHC 2760 (Ch).
  • Acting (with Joseph Wigley) for the debtor in In the matter of Derek Quinlan, a nine-figure bankruptcy petition presently listed for a 15-day trial in June 2022.
  • Applications for permission to commence and continue proceedings in the context of an interim moratorium imposed under the Insolvency Act 1986.
  • Acting on behalf of the Financial Conduct Authority in In the matter of AFX Markets Limited, an application for a special administration order under the Investment Bank Special Administration (England and Wales) Rules 2011/1301.
  • Acting for the debtor on a bankruptcy petition raising issues in respect of the debtor’s Centre of Main Interests.
  • Advising a contingent creditor in respect of the effect of clauses in a CVA and on the potential for challenging the CVA under s. 6 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
  • Advising a national regulator on the effect of administration on regulated entities for which it is responsible.
  • Acting for a creditor in proceedings challenging an administrator’s conduct under Schedule B1 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
Banking & finance

Lara has strong experience in banking and financial services and regulation and welcomes instructions in this area. As a baby junior, she undertook a secondment to the Financial Conduct Authority, focusing on the regulation of peer-to-peer lending firms, which gave her an excellent understanding of financial services and regulation under FSMA and the Regulated Activities Order. Particular instructions of note include the following:

  • Sharp and Ors v Blank and Ors [2019] EWHC 3096 (Ch), a 12-week trial in the Chancery Division brought by Lloyds’ shareholders against its directors. The claims raised, amongst other things, specific issues of obligations under the Listing Rules in respect of shareholder circulars and the regulation of banks’ capital.
  • Tavira Securities Limited v Re Point Ventures FZCO and Ors, a c. £4 million claim in the DIFC concerning a breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy in the context of a securities trade.
  • Advising in respect of potential proceedings for failure to settle a c. €25 million securities trade.
  • Advising as to the need for authorisation by individual members of a company and possible breaches of the COBS, PRIN, SYSC and COND parts of the FCA Handbook.
  • Advising in respect of proceedings in the Upper Tribunal challenging a Decision Notice issued by the Financial Conduct Authority rescinding the recipient’s authorisation.
Company law

Lara is interested in all areas of company law. She has a particularly strong background in dealing with shareholder disputes and issues concerning directors’ duties. Examples of recent and ongoing instructions include:

  • Acting for the claimant shareholders in Sharp and Ors v Blank and Ors [2019] EWHC 3096 (Ch), a case subject to a rare Group Litigation Order, against Lloyds’ former directors.
  • Advising a major sporting regulator on the interpretation and application of its internal rules regarding directors.
  • Advising on and drafting statements of case in respect of shareholder claims under ss. 994-996 of the Companies Act 2006.
  • Advising and acting for both claimant companies and defendant directors in High Court claims for breaches of directors’ duties.
  • Advising a private company in respect of its obligations under the Companies Act 2006 to provide information to its shareholders.
  • Advising in relation to a proposed partnership structure of a private equity fund.

Lara is a contributor to Tolley’s Company Law Service and writes the “Investigations by BEIS” chapter for the publication.

Fraud – civil

Lara’s work frequently raises issues of civil fraud, and she has extensive experience of claims involving allegations of conspiracy and deceit. Most notably she appeared as junior counsel to Robert Miles QC and Richard Hill QC in Autonomy and Ors v Lynch and Anor, a c. $8 million claim by Autonomy against its former CEO, Dr Mike Lynch for alleged fraudulent accounting, which was heard over the course of a 93-day trial between March 2019 and January 2020 in the Chancery Division. Other notable work includes:

  • Tavira Securities Limited v Re Point Ventures FZCO and Ors, a c. £4 million claim in the DIFC concerning a breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy in the context of a securities trade.
  • Acting for the claimant company in a six-figure High Court claim against former directors and shareholders for, amongst other things, conspiracy to injure the company.
  • Advising on a potential claim for conspiracy in the context of a pre-pack administration sale.
Energy & natural resources

Lara has a great deal of specialist knowledge and expertise relating to energy markets and regulation. As noted above, she is regularly instructed by OFGEM to appear in the High Court in respect of urgent energy-related matters, specifically in cases of insolvent energy supply companies. Lara has appeared in more than 20 such cases, including most notably Gas and Electricity Markets Authority v GB Energy Supply Ltd [2016] EWHC 3341 (Ch) (alongside Nicholas Cox) and Gas and Electricity Markets Authority v Rutherford Energy Supply Limited [2019] EWHC 2760 (Ch). In 2021 alone she has been involved in the high-profile insolvencies of Hub Energy, Green Network Energy, Simplicity Energy, PfP Energy, Moneyplus Energy, People’s Energy, Utility Point, Avro Energy and green.energy.

Regulatory

Lara’s work to date has involved a wide range of regulatory matters and she welcomes instructions engaging regulatory issues from regulators and regulated entities alike. She has an acute understanding of the particular issues that can be raised in the regulation of certain spheres and of the importance of the relationship between regulators and the entities they regulate. To give a flavour of her work:

  • Banking and financial services regulation: Early in her practice she undertook a secondment with the Financial Conduct Authority, advising in respect of the regulation of peer-to-peer lending firms under the FSMA (Regulated Activities) Order. She has since been instructed on a number of matters for the FCA in respect of the authorisation of firms and alleged breaches under FSMA and other financial regulation provisions.  A number of her cases have involved other financial compliance issues, including Sharp and Ors v Blank and Ors [2019] EWHC 3096 (Ch), a 12-week trial in the Chancery Division concerning Lloyds’ takeover of HBOS in 2009, which raised specific issues of obligations under the Listing Rules in respect of shareholder circulars and the regulation of banks’ capital.
  • Energy regulation: As detailed elsewhere in this CV, Lara is regularly instructed by the energy regulator OFGEM to advise on and appear on its behalf in claims against insolvent energy supply companies. For further detail please see the ‘Energy & Natural Resources’ section above.
  • Other regulation: Lara is well-equipped to advise other regulators on matters relating to her specialist areas of practice, including commercial and contract law, insolvency, company law and civil fraud. As examples she has previously been consulted by an education regulator in respect of such matters, and by a major sporting regulator on the interpretation and application of its internal rules regarding directors.
Offshore litigation

Lara has experience of claims in a range of jurisdictions, and is a registered Part II practitioner in the DIFC.  Experience includes advising on and drafting a claim for unfair prejudice in Singapore, and being instructed on a c. £4 million claim for breach of contract, deceit and unlawful means conspiracy in relation to a securities trade in the DIFC.

Additional info

Education and awards

Education

BA (Hons) Historical Tripos – Girton College, University of Cambridge

Graduate Diploma in Law (Distinction) – City Law School

Bar Professional Training Course – City Law School

Astbury Scholar of Middle Temple

 

Career & appointments

Member of the Chancery Bar Association and COMBAR

Publications

Contributor to Loose & Griffiths on Liquidators (9th ed.) (2019)

‘Commercial Law and Financial Regulation’, United Kingdom Supreme Court Yearbook vol. 7 (2016) (co-authored with Jonathan Crow QC and Emma Horner)

“Investigations by BEIS”, Tolley’s Company Law Service

Contributor to Lexis Nexis Insolvency Rules 2016 forms