Patrick Arben helps clients to investigate and resolve their disputes and manage risk quickly, commercially and cost-effectively. Patrick was recognised in 2021's prestigious Acritas Stars database as a 'star lawyer'. Patrick is a partner in the commercial litigation team his practice focuses on three key practice areas, (1) the tech sector, (2) public procurement and (3) inquiries and investigations.
The Tech Sector - The tech sector is a fast evolving world that is constantly responding to developments in the ways information technology are delivered and used. Software engineering contracts, IT and business process outsourcing contracts, data hosting agreements and software licences are often high value business-critical projects, and so when disputes and disagreements arise both suppliers and customers need an adviser who can work with them to maximise their legal and commercial leverage. That way, where possible and desirable, parties can keep a project or relationship on track and resolve any dispute with a minimum of cost and disruption to their business. Patrick leads Gowling WLG's IT & Outsourcing Dispute Resolution team. His practice encompasses a variety of specialisms within the technology sector, including software engineering and systems integration projects, IT and BPO outsourcing, software licensing, data security and data protection.
Public Procurement and Judicial Review Patrick also leads Gowling WLG's contentious public sector practice with a particular focus on public procurement. He advised on disputes under a wide variety of regulatory frameworks including the Public Contracts Regulations, The Concession Contracts Regulations, the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations and the Utilities Contracts Regulations. He is well versed in all aspects of procurement litigation and is sensitive the condensed timescales in which challenges are routine brought. He is experienced in making and defending applications to lift the automatic suspension on contract making as well as conducting litigation on an expedited basis. He also has experience of judicial review challenges in the context of procurement challenges. He has acted for Contracting Authorities bidders and interested parties across a range of sectors including healthcare, energy and utilities, nuclear, technology, transport, defence and housing. He has an extensive practice representing government departments and agencies.
Inquiries and Investigations - Patrick also has a long standing Corporate Investigations and Inquiries practice. If a business thinks it may have been a victim of a fraud or misconduct it needs to act, sometimes very quickly, in order to understand what has happened, to put a stop to any wrongdoing and identify the culprits, be they internal or external. Steps then need to be taken to recover any assets, manage its reputation and liaise with regulators and law enforcement agencies to address any regulatory and criminal issues that may arise. Patrick leads a cross-disciplinary team that is experienced in undertaking high profile and sensitive investigations in both the public and private sector. Ensuring that every investigation is tailored to the client's needs and objectives from the outset - be they asset recovery, reputation management, regulatory compliance or to improve corporate governance by ensuring that the lessons from any mistakes are learned. He has extensive experience of Bribery Act compliance. Patrick also has considerable experience of statutory and non-statutory public inquiries. He has acted for both inquiry chairs and participants. He understands the particular sensitivities which arise from an inquisitorial process. He works closely with the client and wider stakeholder teams from an early stage to support those involved, to gather and present evidence accurately and proportionately so that it is seen in context and if necessary, assists in the process of learning lessons to improve future practices.
Patrick worked on a highly complicated, multinational dispute involving a high-profile hedge fund. Patrick's clients were software developers who had been instrumental in developing the software and algorithms used by their former employers. They were caught in the fall-out from a dispute between the fund's founding partners, and as a result had lost millions of pounds of income and bonuses, and stood to lose more as a result of spurious legal claims made against them over the quality of the software they had developed. In this highly technical and at times visceral dispute Patrick's team wrestled with issues of law and fact, and after numerous successful interim hearings before the Technology and Construction Court, were able to force their opponent's hand. Under sustained pressure they caved in, agreeing to pay Patrick's clients the sums owed.
Tech Sector client comprise both buys and seller of technology systems and services and include CACI, Civica and SCC.
Public Procurement clients include government departments and agencies as well as private sector organisations and include the FCDO and The Royal Parks, and Sanctuary Housing Association.
Investigations and inquires clients include major corporates, local authorities, government departments and Inquiry Chairs and include the Chair of the Inquiries into maternity services provide by the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, the Under Cover Policing Inquiry and DFIT (COVID-19 Inquiry).
Patrick helped a global publishing house resolve through arbitration a complex dispute over the failed design, build and implementation of a new highly automated distribution centre. The case turned on the quality of the software managing the centre and difficulties in integrating the software with our client's existing back office systems.
He settled at mediation a £50 million damages claim for a global IT services provider. The customers claim focused on alleged performance problems experienced in the bespoke CRM system developed by the client. Early use of technical and forensic accounting evidence allowed Patrick to persuade the other side that its claim was technically unsound and vastly inflated.
He assisted a unitary authority with an early exit from a 15-year £300 million IT and BPO contract, devising a strategy that enabled the client to avoid any liability for early termination charges.
Patrick helped a supplier of contact centre management software to recover very substantial unpaid software licence fees after an audit of one of its major customers revealed that it might be very substantially under-licensed. By making an application to the court for pre-action disclosure against the customer, Patrick was able to secure the evidence that demonstrated the scale and extent of the under-licensing and forced the customer to come to the table at an early stage in order to reach a negotiated settlement.
He forced a claimant to abandon its litigation against his client, which was facing a claim for substantial damages for referral fees for sales of its hardware allegedly introduced by the claimant, a value-added reseller. Patrick was able to show that it was likely the contract had been fabricated by the claimant in conjunction with a former employee of our client, which persuaded the claimant to discontinue its litigation following a successful mediation.
He assisted an automotive manufacturer in recovering its data in a dispute with its legacy data hosting provider. This was a bet-the-company dispute, where the client needed to recover its data in a structured and orderly way in order to transition to its new provider in a way that ensured business continuity. Ambiguities in the contract meant the legacy provider was seeking to hold the client's data to ransom so as to extract inflated charges for exit assistance. By bringing proceedings for an injunction for delivery up of the data the legacy provider was forced to compromise and an acceptable negotiated settlement was reached.
He advised a government agency in connection with a challenge brought by the incumbent provider of radiation testing services following the award of the contract to a competitor.
He represented a government department in defence of a £200 million procurement challenge brought by the incumbent provider of communications systems for the UK's embassies worldwide following the award of the contract to a competitor. The proceedings were conducted on an expedited basis.
He defended a government agency in proceedings under the Concession Regulations and a related Judicial Review brought by the incumbent concessionaire of one of Europe's largest music festivals following the award of the concession to a competitor; settling the proceedings on confidential terms shortly before trial.
Represented a Combined Commissioning Group in the defence of a £300 million procurement challenge and related judicial review brought by the incumbent service provider of various healthcare services from a regional treatment centre. The challenge came following the award of the contract to an NHS Trust Patrick was successful in an application to lift the automatic suspension on contract making which allowed the CCG to award a critically important contract and so preserve continuity of care.
Represented the supplier of technology hardware and related services to a local authority in their successful procurement challenge after the contracting authority was persuaded to recognise that it has failed to correctly apply its evaluation methodology.
Acting for the interested party and successful bidder for the acquisition of land from a unitary authority as part of the authority's urban regeneration programme. The award was challenged by an unsuccessful bidder who sought Judicial Review of the decision, we advised on both summary and detailed grounds of resistance, evidence and duty of candour issues.
Investigations and Inquiries
He acted for the Chair of the non-statutory inquiry into the provision of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust (the Ockenden Review). Providing legal support on all aspect of the inquiry including terms of reference, data privacy, policies and procedures, stakeholder engagement, evidence gathering, publication and Maxwellisation.
Patrick advised a British university on UK Bribery Act investigation in connection with the provision of donations to fund a research project by Chinese-based pharmaceutical businesses.
Led the team that was appointed to support the Undercover Policing Inquiry's evidence review and preparation for hearings.
He led an investigation for a not-for-profit organisation into the reasons why a recently-acquired subsidiary had become insolvent and had to be rescued by his client. The investigation focused on management failings and in particular looked at possible fraudulent conspiracies between former employees and third party providers. The objectives of the investigation were to recover any sums lost as a result of wrongdoing and to satisfy the client's regulator that any problems had been identified, rectified and that lessons had been learned.
Patrick advised a sports business on UK Bribery Act compliance in connection with proposed contracts with third party intermediaries, providing access to potential overseas sponsors.
Appointed to support the Department for International Trade in connection with its participation in the COVID-19 Inquiry.