Nicholas Wright

Nicholas Wright

Call 2019

Overview

Nicholas is a commercial chancery barrister with a practice focussed on commercial litigation, company law, shareholder and joint venture disputes, insolvency and civil fraud. He regularly acts led and unled in cases across those areas.

Nicholas was previously Judicial Assistant to Lord Briggs at the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council where he worked on a number of commercial and chancery cases. In 2021 he was also seconded to Allen & Overy LLP for six months where he worked on matters including acting for the plan companies in the successful restructuring of the Virgin Active Group and for the Joint Administrators of Greensill Capital (UK) Limited on a number of contentious and investigatory matters arising from Greensill’s collapse.

Areas of expertise

  • Chancery: Commercial

    Nicholas has broad experience of commercial chancery cases. He also has particular experience of cases concerning solicitors’ liens.

    • Acting for a lender in a claim brought against it for c.£600,000 in losses caused by allegedly defective credit reporting.
    • Acting for a high net worth individual in relation to attempts by receivers to sell a property, including preparing an injunction application (led by Aidan Casey KC).
    • Obtaining a general civil restraint order in favour of a group of financial services companies against a serial litigant who claimed to have been the victim of “mis-selling” of investment products managed by one group entity.
    • Advising directors on whether a debt which had been subject to a settlement agreement between the creditor bank and the debtor company directors was unenforceable on Consumer Credit Act grounds.
    • Advising and settling Particulars of Claim for a party to a contractual joint venture where approximately £750,000 was alleged to have been unlawfully appropriated to the corporate group of the JV counterparty.
    • Assisting Lord Briggs (as a Judicial Assistant) in relation to Guest v Guest, a significant case before the Supreme Court on the proper basis for remedies in proprietary estoppel claims.
    • Whilst working at a law firm before commencing pupillage, Nicholas worked on a number of iterations of Crumpler and anor (Joint liquidators of Peak Hotels & Resorts Ltd in liquidation) v Candey Ltd, including those concerning with the status of monies in court and solicitors’ liens. He subsequently assisted Lord Briggs (as a Judicial Assistant) with a speech on solicitors’ liens to be given to the Chancery Bar Association.
  • Commercial Dispute Resolution

    Nicholas has acted in a number of commercial claims, with a particular focus on contractual disputes and economic tort claims.

    • DHSC v PPE Medpro Limited: Acting for the Department of Health and Social Care in its highly publicised claims against PPE Medpro Limited for in excess of £130 million arising from the supply of allegedly defective PPE to DHSC during the Covid-19 pandemic (led by Paul Stanley KC, Tiran Nersessian and Albert Sampson).
    • Obtaining summary judgment on behalf of a Mayfair casino on a £2.5 million claim for unpaid gambling debts against a high net worth individual.
    • Acting for a law firm in a claim for unpaid fees, including advising on solicitors’ liens.
    • Acting for a Dutch technology company in a dispute with an English software company over defective software for a manufacturing system. Nicholas advised and drafted Particulars of Claim involving allegations of breach of contract and tortious intimidation, as sole counsel.
    • Advising a supplier of goods on its rights following the insolvency of the ultimate purchaser, including under the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, as sole counsel.
    • Advising on personal claims, notably economic torts, against a director of a construction company arising from serious breaches of contract.
    • Assisting Lord Briggs (as a Judicial Assistant) in Basfar v Wong [2022] UKSC 20, an employment claim brought against a Saudi diplomat by a former domestic servant who alleged she had been trafficked and held in conditions of modern slavery. The case concerned the scope of the “commercial activity” exception to diplomatic immunity
    • Assisting Lord Briggs (as a Judicial Assistant) in Royal Bank of Scotland International Ltd v JP SPC 4 [2022] UKPC 18, a case on whether the “Quincecare” duty should be owed by a bank to the beneficial owners of monies held on trust in the relevant bank account(s).
    • Assisting Andrew de Mestre KC in the case of Deutsche Trustee Company Ltd v Duchess VI CLO BV [2019] EWHC 778 (Ch) in relation to the correct construction of bond documents in a CLO transaction, as a pupil
    • Assisting Jonathan Crow KC with the appeal to the Court of Appeal in Secretary of State for Health v Servier Laboratories Ltd [2019] EWCA Civ 1160 concerning the proper ambit of the unlawful means tort, as a pupil.
  • Company Law

    Company work is a core area of Nicholas’ practice. He has wide-ranging experience of shareholder and joint venture disputes, including unfair prejudice petitions, derivative claims and breach of fiduciary duty claims against directors.

    • Acting for the Respondents to an unfair prejudice petition brought against them on the ground of breach of fiduciary duty as directors of a Company.
    • Acting for a director accused of misappropriating over £500,000 from a company on an application for permission to continue a derivative claim against him.
    • Preparing an expert report for use in foreign proceedings on whether a high net worth individual accused of tax evasion had ever become a shareholder in a company listed on the London Stock Exchange.
    • Acting for two founders of restaurant business in dispute with their investor in negotiations to put in place a new Shareholders’ Agreement and Articles of Association.
    • NDK Ltd v HUO Holding Ltd: Nicholas acted in LCIA arbitrations concerning a shareholder dispute over control of the Cypriot holding company of a large mine in the CIS region. This eventually included an antisuit injunction arbitration to restrain proceedings in Cyprus and three consolidated arbitrations on the merits. The case particularly addressed questions of the limits of arbitrability in the company law context which were eventually addressed by the High Court in NDK Ltd v HUO Holding Ltd [2022] EWHC 1682 (Comm) (led by Aidan Casey KC and Alexander Cook KC).
    • Nicholas acted for the Petitioner in an unfair prejudice petition concerning a 50/50 joint venture company incorporated to carry out a large property development. The case settled immediately following presentation of the petition on highly favourable terms to the Petitioner (led by David Lord KC)
    • Acting for minority shareholders to advise on and draft an unfair prejudice petition concerning allegations of exclusion, misappropriation of business and company funds to the majority and related claims for proprietary estoppel. The value of relief sought is in the low seven figure range. As sole counsel.
    • Advising a company director on a potential claim to remove their personal address from the public record at Companies House. The case raised complex issues of the relationship between the Companies Act 2006 and the director’s rights under, inter alia, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
    • Advising on litigation risk in connection with a number of shareholders’ and joint venture agreements (whilst seconded to Allen & Overy LLP).
    • Assisting Lord Briggs (as a Judicial Assistant) in Ma v Wong [2022] UKPC 14, an appeal from the BVI in a substantial unfair prejudice petition.
    • Assisting Lord Briggs (as a Judicial Assistant) in Nature Resorts Ltd v First Citizens Bank Ltd [2022] UKPC 10, a Privy Council case concerning undue influence and the circumstances in which a company may provide financial assistance in the purchase of its own shares.
    • Assisting Andrew de Mestre KC and Jonathan Crow KC, in Singularis v Daiwa before the Supreme Court, an appeal on the attribution of a director’s knowledge of their own fraud to a company, as a pupil.
    • Assisting Andrew de Mestre KC, in the trial of a claim for repayment of a loan which turned on the correct construction of a company’s articles of association and, in particular, the pre-emption provisions, as a pupil.
    • Assisting Tom Gentleman to advise on interlocutory matters and pre-trial developments in an unfair prejudice petition brought by the director of a quasi-partnership company on the grounds of exclusion from management, as a pupil. Nicholas also produced the first draft of the skeleton argument for trial.
  • Fraud: Civil

    Litigating and advising on fraud claims form a significant part of Nicholas’ work. Notable cases include:

    • Assisting Sharif Shivji KC and Tom Gentlemen with various aspects of Autonomy Corporation Ltd v Dr Michael Lynch, a $5 billion claim brought by Hewlett Packard and Autonomy against Dr Michael Lynch, Autonomy’s founder and CEO, in relation to an alleged accounting fraud, as a pupil
    • Assisting Sharif Shivji KC to advise on DIFC claims, including potentially in fraud, arising from the termination of a joint venture relationship in the finance industry, as a pupil.
    • Assisting Andrew de Mestre KC and Donald Lilly with advice on a potential worldwide freezing order against a counterparty alleged to have misappropriated client funds, as a pupil.
    • Assisting Tiran Nersessian during trial of a winding up petition on the public interest ground in Secretary of State for Business v Viceroy Jones New Tech Ltd against a company alleged to have fraudulently sold investments in “truffle trees” to pensioners, as a pupil.
    • Assisting Tom Gentlemen led by John Brisby KC to advise on the merits of claims relating to the alleged fraudulent misappropriation and diversion of a company’s business by a director and interlocutory matters, as a pupil.
  • Arbitration

    Nicholas has been involved in a number of international arbitrations including:

    • NDK Ltd v HUO Holding Ltd: Nicholas acted in LCIA arbitrations concerning a shareholder dispute over control of the Cypriot holding company of a large mine in the CIS region. This eventually included an antisuit injunction arbitration to restrain proceedings in Cyprus and three consolidated arbitrations on the merits. The case particularly addressed questions of the limits of arbitrability in the company law context which were eventually addressed by the High Court in NDK Ltd v HUO Holding Ltd [2022] EWHC 1682 (Comm) (led by Aidan Casey KC and Alexander Cook KC).
    • Assisting Lord Briggs (as a Judicial Assistant) in AIC Ltd v Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria [2022] UKSC 16, a case concerning the circumstances in which the Court will enforce arbitration awards.
    • Assisting Mo Haque KC and Alexander Cook KC in VTB Commodities Trading DAC v Antipinsky Refinery [2019] EWHC 3292 (Comm), a claim under s.32 of the Arbitration Act for the Court to determine the jurisdiction of an arbitral tribunal also involving issues of service out of the jurisdiction
    • Assisting Andrew de Mestre KC and Nicola Timmins in a two day jurisdiction challenge to an LCIA arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction, as a pupil.
  • Insolvency & Restructuring

    Nicholas has experience of both personal and corporate insolvency and restructuring work, including:

    • Re Sova Capital Limited [2023] EWHC 452 (Ch): Nicholas acted for an interested party (the intended purchaser) on applications by the Joint Special Administrators of an insolvent investment brokerage firm focussed on the Russian market for directions pursuant to pursuant to paragraph 63 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 in relation to the sale of a portfolio of shares with an estimated value of approximately £274 million (led by William Buck).
    • Regularly acting for directors and officeholders in claims arising from corporate insolvency.
    • Acting for the Joint Administrators of Greensill Capital (UK) Limited on a number of substantial contentious and investigatory matters arising from its well-publicised collapse (whilst seconded to Allen & Overy LLP).
    • Acting for the Plan Companies in the successful restructuring of the Virgin Active Group. This was the first heavily contested use of Restructuring Plans under Part 26A of the Companies Act 2006 and culminated in an expedited five day sanction hearing before Snowden J ([2021] EWHC 1246 (Ch)) (whilst seconded to Allen & Overy LLP).
    • Assisting Lord Briggs (as a Judicial Assistant) in relation to a number of significant insolvency cases in the Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council including BTI v Sequana, a landmark appeal on the nature and scope of the duties owed by the directors of companies approaching insolvency and Equity Trust v Halabi, a significant conjoined appeal from Jersey and Guernsey raising complex issues surrounding trustees’ liens in the context of “insolvent” trusts, including the priority of trustees’ liens inter se
    • Successfully obtaining dismissal of a winding-up petition brought on the basis of a substantially undisputed £950,000 debt on the grounds that the requirements of the “Coronavirus Test” under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 were not met. Also raised issues of abuse of process in relation to premature disclosure of the petition.
    • Advising the former owners and directors of a group of companies in liquidation on (i) allegations of misfeasance made by officeholders, (ii) a potential application to remove liquidators who had been appointed irregularly, (iii) debt claims made by creditors under a personal guarantee, and (iv) potential claims against receivers for breach of duty arising from disposing of company property at an undervalue.
    • Acting on numerous disputed bankruptcy and winding-up petitions, statutory demands and related matters.
    • Assisting Gregory Denton-Cox in relation to various aspects of the hard-fought Islandsbanki HF v Kevin Gerald Stanford bankruptcy proceedings, as a pupil.
    • Preparing an opinion on the application of the insolvency regime to entities in the higher education sector and the consequences of such an entity becoming insolvent, as a pupil.
    • Assisting Tiran Nersessian in an application to set aside a statutory demand for c.$22 million against the guarantor of a company’s obligations under a SPA, as a pupil.
  • Offshore Litigation

    Nicholas has substantial experience of offshore litigation, in particular arising from his time as the Judicial Assistant to Lord Briggs in his capacity as Supervising Justice of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

    • Work on reforms to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Rules and Practice Directions (the JCPC equivalent of the CPR) (as Judicial Assistant to Lord Briggs).
    • Assisting Lord Briggs (as a Judicial Assistant) in relation to numerous appeals before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
    • Advising, with Alexander Cook KC, on potential claims arising from regulatory action taken against a Caribbean bank.
    • Assisting Sharif Shivji KC to advise on DIFC claims arising from the termination of a joint venture relationship.
    • Assisting Gregory Denton-Cox in advising and drafting particulars of claim in potential just and equitable winding up / unfair prejudice claims by minority shareholders in offshore companies, as a pupil.
    • Assisting Donald Lilly in proceedings in Gibraltar and the UK relating to the insolvent estate of the late Boris Berezovsky, as a pupil.

Other information

  • Career & Appointments
    • Chancery Bar Association
    • Commercial Bar Association
    • Insolvency Lawyers Association
    • Formerly Judicial Assistant to Lord Briggs at the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
    • Seconded to Allen & Overy LLP February to September 2021
  • Education & Awards

    2015: BA in History, Trinity College, University of Cambridge (Double First)

    2016: MPhil in International Relations and Politics, Peterhouse, University of Cambridge

    2017: GDL, City University of London (Distinction)

    2018: BPTC, City University of London

    Nicholas won and was named best speaker in the final of the 7KBW/ Clyde & Co Insurance Law Moot 2017 by Lady Justice Gloster. He also reached the penultimate round of the Maitland Advocacy Prize.

    Trinity College, Cambridge

    2013: Junior Scholarship, Tripos Prize

    2014: Senior Scholarship, Tripos Prize, Bowen Award, F.W. Maitland Prize for Constitutional Law, Legal History and Constitutional History

    2015: Research Scholarship (unable to accept due to change of college), Tripos Prize, Hyam Scholarship for Contemporary Studies

    University of Cambridge

    2015: Newton College Masters Award

    Lincoln’s Inn

    2016: Lord Bowen Scholarship, Hardwicke Award

    2017: Lord Denning Scholarship

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