Direct Access Barrister

Robin John Somerville

Direct Access Barrister

Robin John Somerville

I am a direct access barrister and mediator specialising in shareholder, company, partnership and business disputes and professional regulatory matters. I have been involved in over 1,000 cases spanning more than 20 years in one capacity or another.

Prior to qualifying as a barrister , I set up, grew and successfully sold three technology start-up businesses.

Area of Law

Banking and Financial Services

Prior to qualifying as a lawyer, early in his career, Robin was a trader at the second largest global bank at the time, the role included quoting prices and trading cash and derivative products – Robin was personally responsible for managing a multibillion-dollar daily turnover. In 2015, Robin was an Ombudsman at the Financial Ombudsman Service resolving disputes brought by consumers of financial services, issuing legally binding decisions, and awarding redress where appropriate.

Robin was an Independent Member of the Chartered Banker Professional Standards Board between 2015 and 2018 following the financial crisis. Robin provided strategic “new and challenging” advice and input for developing and managing codes of conduct governing conduct for over 200,000 employees to restore public confidence and trust in banking professionals.

Recent work includes:

Advising and drafting pleadings for a company in respect of unauthorised derivative trades undertaken by a Finance Director.
Advising, drafting and mediation advocacy for a company defending against a financial lease.
Mediator in respect of a dispute between a telephone services leasing company and its client.
Investigating allegations of improper conduct by a Chief Exec of a global investment bank.
Investigating allegations of false accounting and bullying and harassment against an MD

Business and Corporate

Robin has had a unique route to the Bar, which provides him a combination of commercial experience and legal expertise enabling him to provide clear and pragmatic advice enabling clients to take properly informed business decisions. Before joining the self-employed Bar, Robin worked in-house for a global bank before setting up, growing and selling three technology start-up businesses, one of which generated eight figure sales and enquiries for its network of partners. Robin previously sat as an equity holding non-executive director of one of the UK’s leading online price comparison websites and, having sat on a number of boards throughout his career Robin has, gained valuable commercial insight and coal face experience about the processes of internal business disputes and management.

Chancery

The heart of Robin’s practice lies in shareholder, board and partnership disputes arising from the creation, management and dissolution of business entities. Robin deals with entities of a wide range of sizes and across many diverse industries. Robin’s clients are often owner managers or owners of family businesses who hold shareholdings or positions as directors or partners. Robin represents and advises clients in disputes involving:

unfair prejudice petitions pursuant to Section 994 of the Companies Act 2006;
claims against of directors for failing to comply with their statutory duties under the Companies Act 2006;
derivative actions pursuant to Sections 262 and 265 of the Companies Act 2006;
actions flowing from the Partnership Act

Recent work includes

Advising and drafting pleadings in respect of a £120m property development partnership dispute between six brothers.
S994 unfair prejudice case – advising, representing at mediation, drafting pleadings, representing at preliminary hearings – c£5m family business shareholder dispute – 6 day trial listed later in the year
Advising and drafting pleadings for a company in respect of a claim against a finance director alleged to have conducted unauthorised derivative trading causing c£4m losses.

Commercial

In his practice Robin has helped many clients, ranging from directors, managers, traders and other professionals on all the legal aspects of commercial law that can arise when running a business. Robin’s experience extends across a wide spectrum of industry sectors. Disputes of this kind are often complex, time consuming, destructive and evidentially difficult. Robin’s clients value his responsiveness, user friendly client approach, focus on solving the issue(s) and finding dispute avoidance solutions to legal and factual issues. Robin is at his best at times when clients are facing crisis or radical change where they benefit from his strategic, analytical focus and measured approach.

Robin’s work has included the following:

Advising and drafting a Particulars of Claim for a reseller for unpaid recurring revenue payments.
Advising a defendant, cloud computing services reseller, in respect of alleged breach of contract.
Advising on an agency agreement for a biotech company seeking external investment.
Advising a claimant franchisee of a stockbroker/financial advisor franchise.
Advising an internet content provider in respect of reviews posted on their website.
Advising a CTO in respect of his options in a tech start up upon sale
Secured settlement between a specialist recruiter and a tech company

Employment and Pensions

Robin is a busy and experienced external independent investigator in respect of human resource employment workplace investigations. Robin conducts complex, challenging and sensitive HR investigations normally in respect of CEOs, senior executives and board members. He has conducted over 25 investigations including for some of the highest profile global non-governmental organisations, a FTSE 100 company, a global investment bank, the NHS, local government and not-for profit organisations.

Robin sits as an independent Disciplinary Panel Chair or Member on employee disciplinary and grievance panel hearings and appeals involving weighing up evidence and submissions of employees and employers before making factual findings and arriving at binding or recommended sanction outcomes.

Previous investigations undertaken have included allegations of:

discrimination and disability discrimination by association;
dishonesty;
falsifying accounting records to disguise unauthorised cash withdrawals;
mental health, addictions;
sexual assault and harassment, sexual relationships with interns, possession of obscene imagery of sexual violence within the workplace;
social media posts;
supplying staff with class A drugs;

Healthcare

Robin sat as a Tribunal Chair for the Nursing and Midwifery Council for 8 years and a member for the the MPTS/General Medical Council for 4. He has subsequently represented a wide range of healthcare professionals before their regulators.

In addition Robin was a Board Member and Chair of the Audit Committee of a large Clinical Commissioning Groups in London.

Information Technology and Telecommunications

Robin set up, grew and successfully sold three tech start ups prior to qualifying as a barrister.

Robin’s commercial technology experience spans both online and offline solution providers and distributors. Robin is able to advise customers, suppliers and sub-contractors involved in online, IT or telecoms projects in the planning and pre-contract stages, or if they are in distress or have ended in dispute. He is also able to advise on dispute resolution systems architecture and strategic considerations and non-contentious planning.

Partnership and Joint Ventures

The heart of Robin’s practice lies in shareholder, board and partnership disputes arising from the creation, management and dissolution of business entities. Robin deals with entities of a wide range of sizes and across many diverse industries. Robin’s clients are often owner managers or owners of family businesses who hold shareholdings or positions as directors or partners. Robin represents and advises clients in disputes involving:

unfair prejudice petitions pursuant to Section 994 of the Companies Act 2006;
claims against of directors for failing to comply with their statutory duties under the Companies Act 2006;
derivative actions pursuant to Sections 262 and 265 of the Companies Act 2006;
actions flowing from the Partnership Act

Professional Discipline

Robin has over 15 years experience advising, representing professionals or regulators or sitting as a tribunal chair or member or providing training.

Regulatory regimes include statutory, chartered bodies and private sector regulation. Robin’s advisory work has included assisting clients facing a wide span of conduct allegations including sexual misconduct, dishonesty, clinical and language competency before tribunals of first instance, appeals and at the High Court.

Robin has delivered board and panel training to a number of leading regulators and regulated commercial organisations, both domestically and overseas. The training has covered a wide range of decision making matters including unconscious and cognitive bias, structured decision making, approach to dishonesty, the writing of reasons, equality/diversity and the importance of protecting the reputation of the profession. Robin has particular expertise in questioning techniques for panel chairs and members.

Robin has re-written of a number of codes of conduct including for statutory regimes requiring approval by the relevant Secretary of State. The commissioner of this work wrote “The end result is a testament to the positive and open way that this piece of work was approached and the new Code of Conduct will go a long way towards driving up standards in the sector.”

What sort of work do I do?

My practice is centred around advising and representing shareholders, partners and businesses, assisting them resolve their legal disputes. I also assist professionals such as doctors, nureses, solicitors and accountants with issues with their regulators.

Who do I work for?

I work mainly for shareholders, company directors, family business owners, partners and businesses with their business disputes. I also work for healthcare, legal, accountancy, surveying and other professionals.

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