Major report reveals rise in litigation cases

24/01/2024
Andrew Foyle, solicitor advocate and joint head of litigation at Shoosmiths in Scotland

A MAJOR survey conducted by law firm Shoosmiths has revealed that litigation cases are on the rise, with over 25% of in-house legal teams expecting that they will be dealing with claims in Scotland in 2024. 

The major trends report, that surveyed the views of 360 general counsel / senior-in-house lawyers working within businesses with a £100m+ turnover (including technology, telecoms, automotive, and financial services firms), revealed:

  • 28% of the 360 respondents had been required to deal with litigation in Scotland over the past year.
  • 17% of the respondents expect to be engaged in disputes in Scotland over the next three years.
  • Board and GCs (general counsel) are not fully aligned on risk. UK-wide, only 13% of (GC / senior in-house lawyer) respondents felt that they aligned extremely well.
  • GCs and boards also disagree on the significance of data breaches. 38% of GCs surveyed stated that data breach follow-on litigation is a top concern for their board. The majority of GCs and legal teams regarded this issue as less of a worry for the business.   
  • Over three quarters of respondents expect to increase headcount and 82% expect to increase spending on dispute resolution over the next three years.

These are just some of the key findings from Shoosmiths ‘Litigation risk 2024’ report conducted using a phone-to-web methodology that canvassed the opinion of 360 GC / in-house lawyer respondents during July and August 2023.

The report also revealed that respondents conducted 62% of their litigation cases in the England & Wales legal jurisdiction last year, with these same respondents expecting that 41% of their cases will be conducted down south in 2024. 

Commenting on the significance of the report, Andrew Foyle, a solicitor advocate and joint head of litigation at Shoosmiths in Scotland, said: “The trends report clearly underlines that both in Scotland and UK-wide, litigation cases are on the rise. Notably, there is an expectation among major businesses in key sectors that they will see more head count and spend on dispute resolution over the next three years.

“This is highly significant for all involved in Scotland’s dispute resolution sector.  Equally, the report has shone a light on the fact more work needs to be done by many major businesses to identify future areas of risk.  According to our findings, 50% of those surveyed don’t undertake horizon scanning and 64% fail to undertake trend analysis in their sector.”

Among other key findings, feedback from GCs and senior in-house lawyers suggested there is a disjointed approach to mitigating litigation risk, specifically in terms of internal training, litigation preparedness reviews and contract audits.

The report is available to download from the Shoosmiths website here: Litigation risk 2024 report (shoosmiths.com)

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