2020 posed unique challenges for everyone. As the new year ticked round at midnight on 31 December 2019, no one knew how drastically the world would change in such a short amount of time.
When the UK went into lockdown on 23 March 2020, H&J was in the very fortunate position of being able to continue to function. Like many professional services firms we were able to work remotely and for many of us work provided a welcome distraction from everything going on in the world. The wartime phrase “keep calm and carry on” seemed as fitting as ever.
We invested in a large number of new claims throughout 2020 and continued to progress the claims already in our portfolio.
One of those claims proceeded to a remote trial before DJ Kelly (now HHJ Kelly) in October 2020 - which we won. The claim was in respect of repayment of a director’s loan account, which the director disputed on the basis that the monies received were a combination of remuneration and the repayment of business expenses. The case was particularly complex due to the lack of clarity in the company’s records, which was was compounded by (i) retrospective investigations by HMRC determining certain payments should be taxed as income, (ii) the defendant owning multiple companies with intertwined dealings; and (iii) payments (allegedly salaries and loans) also being made to / through family members. The success at trial was an excellent result for us for our legal and forensic in-house team.
We also managed to agree commercial resolutions of numerous other claims within our portfolio - resulting in the payment of millions of pounds to the assignors of those claims.
Before the UK went into lockdown, on 11 March 2020 we were delighted to co-sponsor the HCR Insolvency Conference at the Museum of London on 11 March 2020 and one of our Directors, Piers Elliott took part in an engaging panel discussion on the duties of officeholders when dealing with litigation claims. We also adapted to the world of virtual networking and in November 2020 partnered up with law firm Ogier to host a virtual Q&A session with England rugby legend Matt Dawson.
On a more personal level, we welcomed three new additions to the Henderson & Jones team. Associate, Lauren Pender joined us from Eversheds Sutherland and Legal Assistant, Eleanor White joined us after completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham and is currently studying for her Graduate Diploma in Law. A particularly bright moment amongst the darkness of 2020 came in November with the youngest new addition to the H&J family - as Associate, Dalila Scanavacca and her husband Marcelo welcomed their baby boy Marco into the world.
As the dust settles on 2020, I don’t think it is a year any of us would choose to repeat, but I am also very proud of what H&J managed to achieve notwithstanding everything else.
At present we are all once again locked down at home - but at least this time there is light at the end of the tunnel. Wishing you all the very best for (the rest of…) 2021!