24 May 2021

Litigation boutique launches in London with hedge fund disputes in its sights

Founding partner of Ontier's London arm sets up shop with five-strong legal team

Portrait of Seamus Andrew

Seamus Andrew – the founding partner of what is now the City of London practice Ontier – has set up a litigation boutique.

The former barrister is launching Velitor Law with the support of a five-strong legal team and will target corporate claimant work, acting on a conflict-free basis and deploying technology to allow for agile and flexible working. 

Joining Andrew are senior associate Liam Spender, associates Jason Rose and Inês Santos, and two paralegals.

Taking a multi-disciplinary approach to litigation by working with expert witnesses, litigation funders and reputation management, Andrew said he aimed to bring a different dynamic to disputes by “enforcing rights, with determination and resilience”.

“The firm has a singular focus on claimants which gives us a real sense of purpose, backed by a level of experience of handling high-profile cases,” he added.

The team has notable expertise in financial services – particularly disputes involving hedge funds – but will also handle mainstream commercial claims.

 “We think there’s room here to liberate our clients from the complexities of the big commercial cases and cut to the chase,” Andrew explained. “We aim to be the choice for [law] firms which are conflicted because of their size, but need to make sure that their clients are looked after. With us you get the highly-crafted counsel of a boutique.“

Andrew contrasted the agility of his new firm with that of larger rivals. “This is a market dominated by sabre-rattling. We know that being effective in a dispute is more nuanced. Compelling thinking, rather than brute strength, combined with a good dose of emotional intelligence, can make all the difference." He added: “I’ve always felt that litigation isn’t an on/off switch. It’s about all balance.”

Qualified in England & Wales, he is also called to the Bar in the British Virgin Islands and has practised in the Cayman Islands. His associates have UK, Australian and Hong Kong practice experience.  

He founded the litigation boutique SC Andrew in 2004, the earlier part of his legal career having incorporated stints at Clifford Chance, offshore firm Walkers, and leading Manchester commercial set Deans Court Chambers.

In 2012, his firm expanded to include corporate and commercial law, before becoming the London associated office of Spain-based practice Ontier in 2016 under the brand SCA Ontier. SCA Ontier rebranded as Ontier at the start of this year following Andrew’s retirement from the partnership. It is led by the firm’s remaining partners, Paul Ferguson, who heads the litigation team, Oliver Cain and Derek Stinson.

In May last year, London litigation boutique Keidan Harrison opened for business. It is left by name partners Luke Harrison, former head of commercial litigation at Debenhams Ottaway, and Marc Keidan, a name partner at the boutique Cooke Young & Keidan (CYK).

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