Head of Dispute Resolution & Insolvency
About Nick Clarke
Nick heads up the Dispute Resolution and Insolvency Team, having been with Aarons for over 20 years. In May 2019 he became the firm’s Senior Partner and in that capacity, sits on the firm’s management board. In addition to his management responsibilities Nick still undertakes client work on substantial matters where his experience adds value. This includes drafting commercial agreements, particularly for clients in the Logistics sector, handling high value or complex commercial disputes, again with particular focus on the logistics sector and contentious insolvency work in the context of asset recovery claims including claims against directors.
Through the firm’s close connection to the UK Warehousing Association, Nick has considerable experience of resolving disputes involving liens and situations where customers of warehouse keepers have become insolvent. In addition, he has handled numerous professional negligence claims including against accountants, solicitors, architects and financial advisers.
Nick’s approach to disputes is to first understand his client’s objectives and plan a strategy to achieve them. He is a firm believer that dispute resolution is not just about Court procedures, but more about finding cost effective solutions to the problems clients face.
Nick has lived most of his life in Chester, attending Christleton High School before studying jurisprudence (law) at Wadham College, Oxford. He is passionate about Chester and its development, and volunteers with the Chester Civic Trust. In his spare time he’s a season ticket holder at Manchester United.
Can you tell us a bit about your background, and your role at Aaron and Partners?
My background as a lawyer is as a litigator. I handle commercial disputes with particular expertise in logistics based disputes and also contentious insolvency work. I’m from Chester and after University wanted to return to the North West so the opportunity to do high quality commercial work in Chester was hugely appealing. I trained at Aarons and have been here ever since – over 21 years now.
What has been the most memorable piece of work you have been involved in?
There are lots of cases and clients that are memorable for many different reasons. The case that sticks most in my memory was a trial heard in London by Mr Justice Moore Bick as he was then concerning the application of a third party general lien. It deals with a very niche area and is one of the reasons why logistics has developed into my area of expertise
If you hadn’t been a lawyer, what would you have done?
How’s business at the moment?
Good, for the 6 first six months of the current financial year we are tracking ahead of last year which is very pleasing and testament to the excellent work the team does for clients.
In the Covid19 era, what is the main challenge as Senior Partner?
Being Senior Partner obviously requires that you provide leadership to the firm and that is more challenging when contact in person is limited. To try and address this one of the things we’ve done is to introduce regular Senior Partner update e mails which seem to have been well received and will continue beyond covid. We’ve also tried react quickly and be ahead of the curve in terms of communication when things affecting the firm and our staff change, as they have done regularly during the pandemic. For instance, when the new lockdown was introduced the management team convened quickly, formulated our operational response and communicated it so staff weren’t left wondering whether they should come into the office and so on.
What opportunities can you see?
The unfortunate reality of the situation is that there will be insolvencies. This provides opportunities for those with cash or access to finance to acquire businesses and assets out of insolvency. Economic downturns also generally lead to an increase in disputes work.
How did you find lockdown?
Good and bad. I’ve just become a father so being at home more than I otherwise would have has been great. On the downside I really miss the interaction with the team which I’ve found just can’t be replicated via video calls.
How have you kept in touch with colleagues?
Initially during lockdown we had daily management meetings, though as things have become a little more normal we moved to bi weekly meetings, weekly team leader meetings and regular team meetings too – all via Zoom. Our Marketing and HR teams have worked with our social committee to ensure we maintain social contact too – for instance a weekly Zoom quiz. I’m the head of the dispute resolution and insolvency team as well as being senior partner and we have a team WhatsApp group to stay in touch too.
What about clients?
Phone and e mail – much the same as usual really and since the first lockdown ended we have seen an increase in face to face meetings again too. Some teams had to continue face to face meetings even through the first lockdown, such as the Wills team, subject to appropriate social distancing being applied.
What are the 3 things you miss most from your pre lockdown life?
Going to football matches (I’m a season ticket holder at Manchester United), being able to go drinking with friends without social distancing and the buzz of a busy office. The office is open but only at around 50% capacity due to the covid measures we’ve put in place.
What do you think the biggest change will be working life post lockdown?
There’ll be a lot more working from home and more hot-desking (once it’s safe) with reduced pressure on our office space.