Advising the liquidator of scandal-marred real estate investment scheme German Property Group on English and Irish law matters
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|Restructuring lawyers in Who’s Who Legal||1|
|Active cross-border restructuring and insolvency matters||50|
History of the practice
Fieldfisher’s origins can be traced back to the founding of Field Roscoe & Co by British lawyer and painter Edwin Wilkins Field in 1835. Through a series of mergers, including with TF Peacock Fisher in 1969, the firm became Field Fisher Waterhouse in 1989.
In 2007, the firm made its first moves into Europe, establishing offices in Brussels, Hamburg and Paris. Subsequently, it also opened in Munich and Düsseldorf. It renamed itself Fieldfisher in 2014.
In 2016, the firm merged with the Italian law firm Studio Associato Servizi Professionali Integrati, which had offices in Milan, Rome, Venice and Turin. The following year, Fieldfisher launched its Amsterdam office, while in 2018 it opened in Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Belfast. The same year it merged with Spanish firm JAUSAS to add Madrid and Barcelona to its network, and in 2019 it merged with Irish law firm McDowell Purcell.
Fieldfisher’s insolvency and restructuring practice has grown dramatically over the past five years, which has in part been driven by its geographical expansion. It grew its UK practice with the addition of partner Stewart Perry from Clyde & Co and director Carly Schiff in London from Gateley in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Fieldfisher’s Dutch offices are currently led by partner Marcel Willems in Amsterdam, while its Spanish offices are led by 2021 hires Cristina Asencio in Madrid and Tomás Nart in Barcelona.
Fieldfisher’s restructuring offices are positioned in London, Manchester, Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Brussels, Dusseldorf and Munich.
Who uses it?
Fieldfisher represents a multitude of financial institutions and insolvency practitioners, as well as other stakeholders in all forms of insolvency processes. Over the years, it has acted on behalf of all of the Big Four, as well as BDO, Grant Thornton and Mazars, and insolvency specialist firms such as RSM, FRP Advisory, Friel Stafford and McStay Luby.
Its Spanish and Italian lawyers are often appointed by local courts as insolvency office holders, while the Irish and Dutch practices often act for government entities.
Historic track record
Fieldfisher’s UK team acted for the office holders of Swiss entity Lehman Brothers Finance in the Lehman group insolvency, and the special managers of various Carillion entities. The firm also played a role in the liquidation of accounting firm Dobb White & Co – which operated a Ponzi scheme in the US, the UK, the British Virgin Islands and Belgium – where creditors recovered funds.
The UK team also achieved one of the few centre of main interests shifts for non-domiciled companies in the Circle Oil case, enabling a multinational oil company to enter administration.
In 2018, partner Duncan Black and former dispute resolution director Julia Dodds in London advised the sukuk trustee in the long-running dispute over United Arab Emirates energy company Dana Gas’s US$700 million sukuk, which was ultimately restructured after the company reached an agreement with a large majority of certificate-holders.
Meanwhile, its Irish team represented creditors of car dealership Appleyard Motors in 2015, in what is only the second case in Ireland where directors were successfully held by the High Court to have been personally responsible for the debts of a company.
In Germany, the firm advised a bank consortium in the restructuring of a real estate portfolio by appointment of a receiver, sale of the portfolio and financing of the sale.
Fieldfisher also advised the management board in the Triton-led restructuring of Stabilus in 2010, as well as the senior lenders in a refinancing of a leading park space provider, including a debt-to-equity swap.
The firm welcomed Nart from DWF and Asencio, formerly of Vaciero, as respective heads of its restructuring teams in Barcelona and Madrid in March 2021. Their arrivals filled a gap left by Spanish practice leader Agustí Bou, who left with a six-person team for BDO earlier in the month.
In April 2022, long-time CMS partner Daniel Kamke joined Fieldfisher’s team in Dusseldorf.
Dodds left in July 2022 to become assistant director at the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.
Top cases of the research period
Perry and Dublin partner Mark Woodcock have been acting for Justus von Buchwaldt of BBL Brockdorff, the German liquidator of disgraced real estate investment scheme German Property Group (GPG), advising on claims being made by English and Irish investors, which make up the bulk of claims. GPG is thought to have collected between €1 billion and €1.5 billion (US$1.1 to US$1.6 billion) from investors around the world, much of which is no longer accounted for. Around 200 entities in the group entered insolvency proceedings in Germany in 2020, after news agencies alleged that many of GPG’s planned development projects were either implausible or well behind schedule. Most recently, the Bremen District Court opened full proceedings for GPG’s finance-raising arm, Dolphin Capital 80, in May 2021.
Partner Kit Jarvis in London is also acting for joint liquidators James Bennett and David Standish of Interpath Advisory in the liquidation of real estate investment group Argyle UAE, which was implicated in a US$18 million financing fraud for a Bermudian hotel, residential and retail development called Par-La-Ville Hotel and Residences in 2014. The liquidators have issued claims against the former director of the group for misfeasance and a second party for knowing receipt, in the complex case that spans the UK, UAE, Bermuda, USA and Switzerland. The claim was serviced under the Hague Convention and was an early example of analyzing the position on service post-Brexit.
Elsewhere, Fieldfisher acted for liquidators from Smith & Williamson (now Evelyn Partners) in the liquidation of Wine Enterprise Investment Scheme. The case unusually involved replacing initial liquidators from Price Bailey with Colin Hardman and Finbarr O’Connell of Smith & Williamson, and pivoting the proceedings from a members’ voluntary liquidation to a creditors’ voluntary liquidation, after discovering directors had signed a false statement of solvency. The investigation involved companies in Bermuda and property in Nicaragua and London with the company owing £4.8 million (US$5.3 million).
Interpath managing director Bennett describes Jarvis and Schiff as “tenacious” in their handling of the complex, multi-jurisdictional claim against the former director of Argyle UAE. He says that the firm has further supported the claim by providing additional research into the position of the defendant, which may help secure a settlement.
Steven Illes, a partner at accounting firm MHA Macintyre Hudson, has instructed Fieldfisher on numerous insolvency matters and says the team works “incredibly well” and is “always available”. Illes further adds: “I have found that they always provide practicable, quality advice.”
Fieldfisher's restructuring and insolvency practice covers the full spectrum of the distressed curve. We act for companies, boards, secured and unsecured creditors and insolvency practitioners throughout the industry. Our team of specialists across the UK and continental Europe work closely with many lenders and international creditors, and professional and SME boards, considering strategy in distressed scenarios and mitigating risk for counterparty failure. Our clients choose us for a dedicated, partner-led team delivering the highest levels of technical excellence, combined with our strategic and commercial acumen, responsiveness, and pragmatic attitude.
We litigate for insolvency practitioners and funders, bringing claims particular to Insolvency legislation, as well as misfeasance and breach of duty actions and fraud and tracing claims. We represent clients ranging from listed companies and major accounting firms, to SMEs and niche insolvency practitioners. Our expertise includes assisting companies in dealings with their secured and unsecured creditors, and other stakeholders including pension trustees, and the use of insolvency processes as a fraud recovery tactic. We offer advice on strategy, risk and responsibilities and frequently advise boards of directors on their personal risk and how to mitigate it.
In addition, we advise creditors how best to maximise their recoveries in a distressed or insolvency scenario, with any such strategy balancing the risk and cost of the insolvency process against the alternative of consensual solutions, and have extensive experience advising on likely outcomes in such situations. We also work with insolvency practitioners to affect sales of businesses and assets in time-pressured environments, both maximising realisations and mitigating exposure of the IP, and have specialist expertise across the pharma/life sciences, energy and natural resources, tech and finance sectors.
Recent activity has seen Fieldfisher win significant restructuring and insolvency work in the life sciences and energy & natural resources sectors – two of Fieldfisher's sector focuses in which the firm has market-leading lawyers – as well as the telecoms and retail industries. We have an established record of accomplishment in these areas and a growing reputation for restructuring and insolvency as a whole. We also have particular expertise in CIS/Russia/sanctions issues, as well as a history of working with US lawyers in achieving their client's aims in the UK and Europe.
- France: Lucile Meriguet, [email protected], Bruno Paccioni, [email protected]
- Germany: Daniel Kamke, [email protected]; Jonas Mark, [email protected]
- Ireland: Joanne Cooney, [email protected]; Mark Woodcock, [email protected]
- Italy: Ettore Bonaccorsi, [email protected]; Sabrina Giani, [email protected]
- Netherlands: Marcel Willems, [email protected]
- Spain: Tomás Nart, [email protected]; Cristina Asencio Pascual, [email protected]
- United Kingdom: Kit Jarvis, [email protected]; Stewart Perry, [email protected]; Carly Schiff, [email protected]; Michelle Shean, [email protected]