In April 2020, Mrs. Justice O’Farrell sitting on the High Court of Justice in London granted a permanent injunction preventing the Secretariat, firm experts across different offices and entities, from continuing to act in an arbitration against King & Spalding's client, the Claimant. The Court held that expert and litigation support services cannot, simultaneously, act for the Claimant in one arbitration and against the Claimant in a separate arbitration concerning the same construction project.
Secretariat appealed to the Court of Appeal for a decision that was to have potentially far reaching implications for the way that firms providing expert and litigation support services organise themselves, their conflicts procedures and their terms of engagement with their clients. On 11 January 2021, the Court of Appeal handed down its decision in A Company v Secretariat  EWCA Civ 6 in which the Court held that a contractual duty to avoid conflicts of interest prevented the London entity of Secretariat from acting as quantum expert against King and Spalding's client in a separate but related arbitration. The Court also considered whether an expert could owe fiduciary duties of loyalty, though on the facts it was unnecessary to resolve that question.
We, at King & Spalding, are glad to have prevailed in these proceedings for the Claimant. The judgment of the High Court and its affirmation by the Court of Appeal is a welcome acknowledgement and a necessary clarification on the law that regulates fiduciary duties and conflicts of interests applicable to expert firms providing services to litigants. The judgment will assist law firms and consultancies who provide expert and litigation services, and clients in selecting which experts to retain.
Our work on this matter has since been recognized by Global Arbitration Review, shortlisting this matter as one of the leading cases of 2020.