Disputes are often costly and time consuming, distracting management of retail and hospitality businesses from the day-to-day running of the business.
Our dispute resolution team is familiar with handling all aspects of commercial disputes in the retail and hospitality sector, regularly advising in relation to contractual rights and obligations, supplier/ distributor agreements as well as brand protection and intellectual property challenges. We recognise the importance of effectively assessing and managing disputes from an early stage, forming a clear strategy to ensure a quick and effective solution.
Typically, our services focus on pre-action advice with a view to resolving a dispute if possible without the necessity of court proceedings, including through mediation and other methods of alternative dispute resolution. We are also very experienced in bringing and defending proceedings in the County Court and in the High Court if the need arises.
The team also has expertise in applying for urgent remedies such as search orders for the preservation of evidence, freezing injunction orders restraining a company from removing and dealing with its assets and other interim remedies such as an order to deliver up goods or disclose documents. We aim to work together with our clients in the resolution of commercial disputes by helping them achieve their objectives, manage the risks and minimise their exposure.
We assist our retail and hospitality clients to protect their brands and reputations in a variety of ways including:
- bringing and defending defamation claims (and related actions) – which may relate to newspaper/ magazine articles, television and radio broadcasts, social media posts, internet chatrooms, advertising material and verbal communications;
- seeking injunctive relief to prevent the publication of harmful, defamatory publications (including broadcasts, images and articles);
- procuring the removal of defamatory material on the internet;
- identifying anonymous authors of defamatory postings and locating such individuals;
- taking appropriate action to protect our clients from unlawful harassment (including in the context of social media);
- working with PR teams to mitigate reputational damage, as appropriate;
- advising on all aspects of competitive marketing strategies and associated risks;
- being available around the clock to assist with urgent, time-sensitive matters;
- reviewing publications being published to ensure no reputational damage is caused to our client or any third party.
- Shoe supplier – Acting for a supplier in relation to the rejection of a huge consignment of shoes by a major supermarket. The matter involved numerous problems with recalling goods from stores, quality issues, issues about treatment of overseas suppliers and problems relating to the supermarket’s supply chain. The matter was successfully resolved at an early without prejudice meeting.
- Retail businesses – Acting for a number of businesses in the retail sector on a variety of breach of contract claims and disputes arising out of early or wrongful termination of commercial contracts and disputes involving unpaid invoices for the supply of goods or services.
- Grocery supplier – Advising a supplier on a potential Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) Arbitration in relation to de-listing. The supplier was provided with early commercial advice in relation to the strength of its position and was able to negotiate an acceptable outcome.
- Budget clothing retailer – For many years we have acted for a well-known budget clothing retailer as its sole adviser in relation to periodic threats of intellectual property infringement, generally disposing of matters very early but litigating where determined but unmeritorious claimants cannot be dissuaded from taking action. In order to minimise future claims we have provided training to the buying teams about how intellectual property rights work and what the client can and cannot do when developing new products.
- Well-known high street and online retailer – Acting for a well-known high street and online retailer providing regulatory advice and support, including acting when a private trade association acting for its competitors made a series of allegations to the ASA and Local Authority Trading Standards department claiming that fibre content of clothing was misleading. Fighting allegations on two fronts in the public domain was challenging, especially when the criminal prosecution was due for trial in the key Christmas trading period, but we succeeded in obtaining an embargo on press reporting during the currency of the trial and successfully defended both the criminal allegations and the ASA investigation.
- Hotel and spa – Advising a hotel and spa on reputational damage caused by a guest who took offense to artwork displayed at the hotel, reaching an amicable agreement within 48 hours of original postings.
- Corporate client – Successfully preventing the publication of a harmful proposed tabloid article about a corporate client.
- Corporate client – Successfully resolving (via defamation proceedings) matters for a corporate client faced with an unlawful marketing campaign by one of its competitors.