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Sinead McLaughlin

Sinead McLaughlin has a broad commercial disputes practice, with a particular focus on crisis management and multi-party disputes, across a number of sectors, including advising major banks and financial institutions, media and technology companies.

Her work often requires her to work across a range of practice areas, conducting internal investigations, advising clients in relation to investigations by regulators and other authorities, and acting in any subsequent disputes or litigation which may arise.

Sinead has significant experience working in-house (on secondment), which she leverages for the benefit of her clients. Her secondments have included a long secondment at a leading global investment bank where she advised the bank on a range of contentious commercial and regulatory matters, across the firm’s businesses throughout EMEA; and to a large global company specializing in in e-commerce, cloud computing and other services, advising on contentious data and privacy issues.

Her regulatory enforcement experience includes acting in investigations alleging market abuse, systems and controls failings, financial reporting errors and GDPR compliance matters; in litigation she has acted in claims relating to data and privacy issues, mis-selling, allegations of anti-competitive behavior, and a range of contractual disputes and tortious actions. Sinead also has significant experience acting for defendants in large group litigation (also known as collective actions) in the English High Court.

Opt-out collective actions (i.e. US-style class actions) can only be brought in the UK as competition law claims.  Periodic proposals  to legislate to expand this regime to consumer law claims have so far faltered.  However, this is now back on the Parliamentary agenda.  Several members of the House of Lords have indicated their support for expanding the regime to allow consumers and small businesses to bring opt-out collective actions for breaches of consumer law, and potentially on other bases.

If implemented, this expansion would be very significant and would allow for many new types of class actions in the UK.  Tech companies are already prime targets as defendants to competition-related opt-out class actions.  An expansion of the regime to allow actions for breaches of consumer law, as well as competition law, would only increase their exposure further.

As there is now limited time for legislation to be passed to effect such changes before the UK Parliament is dissolved in advance of an upcoming general election, this may be an issue for the next Parliament.  It will therefore be important to assess what the UK’s main parties say on this – and any manifesto commitments – in the run-up to the election.Continue Reading UK Opt-Out Class Actions for Non-Competition Claims back on Parliamentary Agenda

On October 17, 2023, the European Commission adopted a proposal to review the Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) framework.  The review consists of: (i) a proposal to amend the ADR Directive; (ii) a proposal to repeal the Online Dispute Resolution (“ODR”) Regulation; and (iii) a recommendation addressed to online marketplace and EU trade associations. Continue Reading European Commission Proposes Alternative Dispute Resolution Framework Review

In Penhallurick v MD5 Ltd [2021] EWHC 293 (IPEC) the Court held that the copyright in various literary works relating to software Mr. Penhallurick created during his tenure with former employer MD5 belonged to MD5. The Court found that the works were created in the course of Mr. Penhallurick’s employment with the result that MD5 was deemed the owner of the works (under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988), despite the fact that some of the work was done from Mr. Penhallurick’s home, outside normal office hours and using his own computer.
Continue Reading UK Court Rules on Copyright over Software Developed Whilst Working at Home