Shu Shensmith: How Direct Access barristers stepped in to resolve a disaster for our business

Shu Shensmith, Co-Founder of ShenSmith Barristers

Shu ShenSmith, Co-Founder of ShenSmith Barristers

For many years prior to establishing ShenSmith Barristers, we operated several successful businesses, and as someone once put it 'you can't run a successful business without encountering some difficulties'. This was indeed true when building SkirtingBoards.com, and it was those experiences that prompted us to set upShenSmith Barristers in order to help others who found themselves in difficulties. 

Background 

The advice and actions of an erstwhile "Associate” to one of those businesses caused severe damage to our business through bad practices known as ‘black hat’. It then took years of consistent hard work to recover our position. During those years, my husband and I didn’t take a single day’s holiday and sacrificed everything to ensure our employees remained unaffected - including the Associate, whom we strived to take care of, despite almost ruining our livelihood. 

When the business recovered, the Associate decided to leave, demanding a large pay out, despite never being a shareholder. 

We consulted a lawyer - a business and commercial barrister. He thoroughly reviewed all documentation in connection with our crisis, the Associate, and his inability to resolve it. My barrister gave us a full legal advice on our position. The law supported our position, pointing to the duty to perform with ‘due care and skill’. We duly declined the Associate’s demands and pay out request, and didn’t hear much more for a while. We were sad and disappointed, but were ready to move on from those tough years. 

Then a bombshell dropped! The Associate utilised our intellectual property (IP), know-how and customer data to help a current supplier of ours to set up in direct competition, contrary to our written agreement not to do so. All of this to be ‘spiteful’, according to a mutual contact, who declined to deal with him. 

The emotional turmoil was staggering, but it didn’t end there. There were flippant references to our family, with open-ended vehement threats such as ‘any, and everything goes’. Many people would be destroyed by such events, but once again we pulled ourselves together, turning to our barrister for assistance. 

Seeking a High Court injunction 

Our barrister already knew our position and suggested that we seek a without notice emergency High Court interim injunction. This was a Friday, so we were in for a long and difficult weekend. 

Our barrister suggested we also instruct an intellectual property (IP) barrister to deal with the IP issues, because many barristers specialise in a particular area of law. Throughout the weekend, we had lots of contact with both barristers regarding evidence, facts and establishing a timeline etc. including emails between barristers discussing how to present the case at court. 

It was a tough weekend, but we felt emotionally free, as we had two expert barristers on our case. Both barristers worked constantly for us, responding to our concerns and questions. Feeling confident and comfortable was an odd feeling during all of this, but allowing the barristers to guide us and help us at that point made us was very reassuring. 

The following week our barrister secured an emergency hearing at the High Court, and by 4pm we had an injunction. The result was a great relief for us, and left it open for us to enforce the injunction at any time, and pursue a full claim if we so decided. The experience opened up a whole new experience for us as to how we can protect our business sufficiently.

Life sometimes throws you most unexpected events when you least expect it. Regardless of your background and experience, you can’t be prepared to deal with something you know nothing about. Some of us really try to do the best we can for others (we certainly believe we do), but not everyone has the same mind set, so nasty break ups and fallouts are sometimes inevitable in business, social and even family settings. In this situation, we need to reach out to professionals who are trained to deal with these sorts of things for living, for help. 

We were very pleased that our barristers could step in at moment's notice to offer us professional help and protection at a very difficult moment of our life, and for that, we are eternally grateful. 

Shu ShenSmith is a Co-Founder of ShenSmith Barristers