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Commercial Heavyweight Joins Temple Heelis

L-R: Stephen Barker and Richard Moore

[S]outh Lakes law firm Temple Heelis has strengthened its business services department with the appointment of Stephen Barker as Consultant Barrister.  Barker, formerly a solicitor, has combined his law firm Barker Commercial Law with Temple Heelis, which he describes as a “natural fit” for his commercial client base.

Before setting up niche commercial firm, Barker Commercial Law, Stephen was a partner at international firm Eversheds and US firm Reed Smith. He has extensive experience in resolving commercial disputes and advising on commercial contracts. He has worked with a range of clients from global manufacturers and software houses, to high profile motorsport personalities.  Alongside working with Temple Heelis, Stephen is a Barrister and Commercial Mediator at chambers at 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square in London.

“I am looking forward to working with new and existing clients of Temple Heelis.  More now than ever before businesses need expert advice about their contractual relationships with their suppliers and customers before they do business.

In 30 years of legal experience, I have rarely seen such challenges for UK businesses.  The poor economic forecast, combined with currency fluctuation and pressures on the cost of importing supplies are a recipe for contract disputes.  Parties will seek to renegotiate or exit unprofitable contracts.

Businesses do not have the same statutory protections as consumers, so it is never a good idea to sign on the dotted line without legal advice.  Brexit takes us into unchartered territory.  The “Great Repeal Bill” will convert thousands of EU regulations and directives into English law at the flick of a switch.  Without legal back-up, it will be very hard for clients to spot when they need the protection of bespoke legal drafting.  For example, to avoid jurisdictional issues, businesses contracting with partners in EU member states might have to fight for English law to govern their contracts and should think about an International Arbitration clause as an alternative to the courts.

Sometimes changing just a few words can mean the difference between, on the one hand, unmanaged risk and exposure to unforeseen liabilities and, on the other, a fair balance and apportionment of risk between the contracting parties.

As the English Courts continue to punish ‘unreasonable’ parties with hefty costs sanctions pour encourager les autres, clients now need very early legal assessment of their options when inevitable contract disputes arise.

The changing political landscape and the impact of imported EU regulations, such as GDPR next year, will also mean businesses must keep their terms and conditions and policies under regular legal review.  Otherwise we will see firms fall by the wayside as they are hit by unplanned legal risk.” commented Stephen.

Stephen will provide advice on commercial agreements including terms and conditions, supplier relationships, outsourcing and high value, complex dispute work.

Richard Moore, Managing Partner at Temple Heelis said “We are delighted to welcome Stephen to the firm. He brings with him a wealth of experience operating at the very highest level and expands our capability to handle even the most complex commercial matters. Local businesses can access high quality experience on their doorstep, delivered quickly and efficiently, and representing great value for money.”

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