GIR 100 2020

Fulcrum Chambers

Professional notice

This UK boutique, some 10 years old, makes its first appearance in the GIR 100 as a result of its roles on major white-collar investigations.

The firm

Established in 2010, Fulcrum Chambers is a boutique focused on helping clients navigate the most serious of corporate crime cases. The firm likes to keep a low profile but a number of instructions in high-profile cases have attracted more public attention in recent years. Fulcrum's make-up of barristers and solicitors allows it to offer clients a variety of services many other firms can't provide on their own. Fulcrum can carry out behind-the-scenes investigative and legal work and represent parties in court.

The firm was founded by barristers David Williams QC and Ivan Pearce, who both sold their shares in the company in November 2019 and are no longer involved in the business. They have since set up a new outfit and remain close to the firm.

That means Fulcrum's leadership and direction has recently changed. The firm is led by chief executive Warren Foot, who has 25 years' legal experience. Then there's partner Wayne Barnes who runs the firm's sports investigations and integrity practice. Partner Shiv Haria-Shah is building Fulcrum's financial services practice and advises clients on major corporate investigations and related compliance matters.

Partner Quinton Newcomb has worked on almost all of Fulcrum's largest cases. Clients say they are highly impressed with Fulcrum's performance, and they pick out Newcomb in particular as an outstanding practitioner.

Partner Pam Shearing acts for clients on bribery and human rights matters. She previously worked at Debevoise & Plimpton and before that as an in-house lawyer with UK defence company BAE Systems.

Ed Pearson, a senior associate, also formerly worked at Debevoise, in both its London and Moscow offices, where he acted for the Russian Federation, among other clients.

Recent events

Fulcrum's hiring of two former Debevoise lawyers is no coincidence. The two firms have worked together in representing mining company Eurasian Natural Resources Company – or ENRC – during a UK Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery and fraud. Both Pearson and Shearing were previously on the Debevoise team advising ENRC. Debevoise is no longer acting in the matter.

The ENRC case is one of the highest-profile matters on the SFO's books and is on the cutting-edge of legal developments in the white-collar space. Fulcrum played a behind-the-scenes role in ENRC's successful bid to successfully protect its legal privilege rights over witness interview notes produced by the company's former lawyers at Dechert. Fulcrum had been behind the original privilege calls challenged by the SFO in a London court. After an initial ruling in favour of the agency, the matter came to an end after the English Court of Appeal ruled in favour of ENRC in 2018.

Fulcrum has also provided advice to ENRC as it seeks damages from the SFO and Dechert over allegations that the latter leaked confidential information about the company's case to the UK agency. Dechert and the SFO deny wrongdoing. A trial is scheduled for June 2021.

The firm advised French conglomerate Alstom as its UK subsidiary put a long-running corruption probe to bed. A UK court ordered Alstom Network UK to pay a £15 million fine - and £1.4 million in legal costs incurred by the SFO - after a jury found the company guilty in 2018 of bribing Tunisian officials for a transport contract.

Fulcrum advised Alstom as it challenged the UK case by claiming it was unfair to prosecute the company without charging the directing minds of the company. The English Court of Appeal rejected Alstom's protestations in 2018 but its ruling helped to refine the law on the matter.

As well as companies, the firm has acted for individuals in major UK corporate crime cases, including SFO investigations into engineering company Rolls-Royce and Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto.

Network

The boutique has one office in central London and has worked with investigations heavyweights such as Slaughter and May, WilmerHale, Debevoise & Plimpton, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Hogan Lovells, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, Hughes Hubbard & Reed and Bär & Karrer.

Clients

The likes of ENRC, Alstom and General Electric have turned to the firm.

Track record

Fulcrum has worked on some of the more memorable SFO cases of the last decade. It represented Vincent Tchenguiz in a botched SFO investigation into the property tycoon and his brother. The SFO was ordered to cover the brothers' legal costs and civil claims after the authority used unlawful search warrants to further its investigation into their role in the collapse of an Icelandic bank.

Fulcrum also advised Tom Hayes on the SFO's Libor manipulation investigation before the former UBS banker was found guilty to his role in the scheme.

The boutique's very first big corporate case was when it acted for Macmillan Publishers in a foreign bribery investigation into the company by the SFO and the World Bank. The company self-reported the conduct, struck a novel civil settlement in 2011 with the SFO worth around £11 million before the UK had introduced deferred prosecution agreements, and was debarred by the World Bank for three years.

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