Stephen Baker
Office:
Midland Chambers, 2-10 Library Place
JE1 2BP
City:
St Helier
Country:
Jersey, Channel Islands
Tel:
+44 1534 766254
Fax:
+44 1534 737355

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders Global Elite

Stephen Baker is an English barrister. He is also an advocate in Jersey, Channel Islands. He is senior partner of Baker and Partners. In 2018, he founded Baker de Kluiver PLLC, a law firm based in Washington, DC, which specialises in asset recovery and anti-money laundering/CFT financial regulation. Stephen specialises in complex trust and commercial litigation with an emphasis on asset recovery. He is the chairman of the International Bar Association corruption sub-committee on asset recovery.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career?

That I would be engaged in an intellectually challenging profession that might, with a following wind, enable me to make a positive contribution to society. To make a difference for the better.

What do you enjoy most about practising in the asset recovery and fraud space?

Working with clients and lawyers from all over the world and from a wide variety of cultures. Continuing to develop my understanding of the best way in which different jurisdictions, be they based on the common law or civil law system, can successfully cooperate. Appreciating the strengths and weaknesses of each system. Devising strategies that provide effective solutions to multi-jurisdictional problems which are created when offshore structures have been put in place so as to hide or secure assets. Cracking offshore structures.

How has the practice area evolved since your first began your career?

The opportunities to work with jurisdictions that were at one time considered secretive and resistant to providing assistance have evolved substantially over the past 25 years. Switzerland is not an impossible jurisdiction. Nor are the BVI, Cayman and other jurisdictions once considered offshore and secretive. There are jurisdictions where it is difficult to obtain proper assistance but they are getting fewer. International pressure from organisations such as the Financial Action Task Force is making a change for the better. International expectations have seen a general rise in standards as regards law enforcement. Lip service to international expectation should be, and is often, followed by action. It is no longer enough for a jurisdiction simply to state that it has passed legislation. It must now show that laws are enforced. Higher standards in the anti-money laundering/CFT area create opportunities for asset recovery lawyers in the civil field. It leads to a change in approach by civil courts, by way of example, in the broadening of circumstances when disclosure orders will be made against financial institutions.

What was the greatest challenge you faced when setting up your own law firm?

As a litigation boutique, it took several years to establish ourselves as the number-one litigation firm in Jersey. Entrenched relationships between external law firms and local firms, which have been involved in offshore structuring together for decades, take time to break.

Are there any regions that are particularly active for asset recovery work at the moment?

There are signs in jurisdictions such as Brazil that there will be very active asset recovery activity. The Car Wash investigation has revealed widespread wrongdoing. The strong appearance is that young people will not tolerate the traditional and repeated misconduct of those who hold power. This gives some hope for the country and the region.

In what ways has the pace of the technological change affected the way in which you approach asset recovery work?

This continues to reshape the way law is practised. In the specific field of asset recovery, the approach to document searching has been revolutionised. Electronic searches mean that key documents can often be identified very quickly from enormous volumes of material. This trend will continue.

What qualities make a top-tier trial lawyer?

In my field, a top trial lawyer must have the capacity to present complicated cases in as clear and simple a way as possible. That applies both to the law and the facts. He or she must have a particular skill at dealing with witnesses. Often witnesses are difficult and reluctant. It takes great talent to identify how to deal best with each individual. The ability to cross-examine witnesses including professional witnesses and experts effectively is essential.

What’s the best piece of career advice you have received?

To ensure that complicated facts are simplified so that they are easily understandable. To use each tool in an advocate’s toolkit to allow the factual essence of a case to be set out in a comprehensive and comprehensible fashion. Never be afraid of the truth.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Asset Recovery: Lawyers

Stephen Baker is an English barrister, Jersey advocate and senior partner at Baker & Partners. He specialises in asset recovery actions, particularly those involving political corruption and the unravelling of offshore structures.

He is frequently instructed by foreign governments and has acted for the government of Brazil, the National Accountability Bureau of Pakistan, and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC). He acted in a series of matters for the National Accountability Bureau including Bhutto and Zardari. For KACC, he acted in several cases, one of which resulted in an extradition request from Jersey to Kenya and significant recovery of assets.

Stephen is regularly instructed in the most difficult contentious trusts and commercial disputes in Jersey. He is a highly experienced trial lawyer.

Stephen is an expert in the interaction between civil and criminal law in fraud cases. He successfully acted for Brazil in its first substantial asset recovery action outside of the territory, seeking the recovery of assets held through a Jersey unit trust, allegedly to the benefit of a senior Brazilian politician (Federal Republic of Brazil v Durant International Corporation & Ors [2012] JRC211).

He is regularly instructed by the attorney general of Jersey in the most complex criminal cases.

Educated at Manchester and Cambridge universities, he has a first-class master's degree in law.

Stephen is chairman of the International Bar Association asset recovery subcommittee. He is also chairman of the Jersey Institute of Law. Together with Jack de Kluiver he founded Baker & Partners' sister firm Baker de Kluiver in Washington DC during 2017. Stephen is a member of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) and in 2016 was named the ACTAPS Offshore Contentious Trusts Practitioner of the Year. Stephen is the Jersey representative of FraudNet, the fraud prevention network of the ICC Commercial Crime Services.

WWL says: Stephen Baker is praised as “an excellent litigator” who enjoys “a phenomenal reputation having been involved in many substantial fraud cases”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Asset Recovery which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Litigation: Lawyers

Stephen Baker is an English barrister, Jersey advocate and senior partner at Baker & Partners. He specialises in asset recovery actions, particularly those involving political corruption and the unravelling of offshore structures.

He is frequently instructed by foreign governments and has acted for the government of Brazil, the National Accountability Bureau of Pakistan, and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC). He acted in a series of matters for the National Accountability Bureau including Bhutto and Zardari. For KACC, he acted in several cases, one of which resulted in an extradition request from Jersey to Kenya and significant recovery of assets.

Stephen is regularly instructed in the most difficult contentious trusts and commercial disputes in Jersey. He is a highly experienced trial lawyer.

Stephen is an expert in the interaction between civil and criminal law in fraud cases. He successfully acted for Brazil in its first substantial asset recovery action outside of the territory, seeking the recovery of assets held through a Jersey unit trust, allegedly to the benefit of a senior Brazilian politician (Federal Republic of Brazil v Durant International Corporation & Ors [2012] JRC211).

He is regularly instructed by the attorney general of Jersey in the most complex criminal cases.

Educated at Manchester and Cambridge universities, he has a first-class master's degree in law.

Stephen is chairman of the International Bar Association asset recovery subcommittee. He is also chairman of the Jersey Institute of Law. Together with Jack de Kluiver he founded Baker & Partners' sister firm Baker de Kluiver in Washington DC during 2017. Stephen is a member of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) and in 2016 was named the ACTAPS Offshore Contentious Trusts Practitioner of the Year. Stephen is the Jersey representative of FraudNet, the fraud prevention network of the ICC Commercial Crime Services.

WWL says: Stephen Baker is an outstanding litigator who is recognised for his superb expertise in sophisticated asset recovery matters.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Litigation which can be purchased from our Shop.

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