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Sub practice
Sub practice

Public Law Litigation

Given the importance of the financial and political stakes in play when the public sector interacts with the private sector, it is inevitable that such interaction will result in disputes and potentially litigation.

This is all the more probable in the current environment of austerity and government cost-cutting, which has, in many situations, resulted in the removal of rights and the frustration of expectations. At such times it is essential that clients have the best advice from a team of lawyers well-versed in public law litigation.

Allen & Overy can provide that team. Our public law practitioners have a wealth of experience in public law litigation across a number of different jurisdictions. We act both for public sector bodies seeking to defend their decisions and for private sector parties bringing public law challenges, which giving us a unique perspective and enabling us to bring a different approach to representing a client, whether in the public sector or commercial. 

We understand the different procedures, approaches and strategies required to deal with public law issues. We handle many large-scale disputes and have considerable experience with proceedings in the administrative and civil courts, as well as in the European Court of Justice. Our lawyers often represent foreign companies in proceedings related to the decisions of national bodies. Our global reach and the fact that so many of our cases have an international element means that we are experienced working with lawyers and witnesses from different jurisdictions.

 

News & insights

Publications: 25 FEBRUARY 2020

Legal advice privilege subject to “dominant purpose” test – how to deal with multi-party email communications

The dominant purpose of a communication must be to obtain, or give, legal advice for legal advice privilege to apply.  The Court of Appeal considers how, in the light of this, to analyse privilege and internal multi-party email communications between in-house lawyers and non-lawyer employees. Three Rivers No. 5 is criticised but acknowledged to be binding: The Civil Aviation Authority v Jet2.Com Ltd, R. (on the Application of) [2020] EWCA Civ 35.

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Publications: 25 FEBRUARY 2020

Time limits for damages claims based on public law breaches during rail franchise procurement

This case highlights the very different, and often very strict, time limits that apply in different private law and public law claims.  Rejecting the Secretary of State’s attempt to strike out part of the claims against it, the Court of Appeal confirmed that the six-year time limit for damages claims applies to a procurement conducted outside the Public Contracts (and similar) Regulations.  However, the three- month judicial review time limit may apply to other private law claims in this context.  The decision highlights the importance of considering time limits when challenging, or defending, public body decision-making.  Where the public law act engages private law rights, damages and other remedies may still be available where the time limits for judicial review have passed – provided that judicial review is not being sought by the back door: Secretary of State for Transport v Arriva Rail East Ltd & ors [2019] EWCA Civ 2259.

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Publications: 27 MARCH 2018

An unusual order for alternative service

Circumventing the more traditional methods of service, the English court permitted alternative service of English court proceedings on a Turkish state organ via the London office of a UK law firm which represented certain other co-defendants (but not the state organ itself) on the basis that the co-defendants were closely associated with the state organ. The decision potentially opens up another service option for litigants finding it difficult to serve proceedings on a state party: Koza Ltd & anr v Akcil & ors [2018] EWHC 384 (Ch), 26 February 2018 

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Publications: 27 MARCH 2018

The inviolability of diplomatic mission documents

​A U.S. Embassy (in London) communication, purportedly recording discussions between the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and U.S. officials, was admissible in evidence in English court litigation against the UK government by residents of the Chagos islands. The decision is relevant to anyone involved with litigation in the English courts either against a state or where a third party state’s documents are in issue, as it provides important guidance on when a diplomatic mission’s documents may be admissible in evidence.  Here the relevant circumstances justifying admissibility included that the document was already in the public domain (it had been leaked by Wikileaks) and that it was no longer part of the London U.S. Embassy’s archive: R (on the application of Bancoult No. 3) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2018] UKSC 3, 8 February 2018

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Recognition