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Michael Leeds

Michael Leeds

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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Michael Leeds is one of the foremost asset recovery experts in the world, who is considered “accurate, efficient and excellent to work with”.

Questions & Answers

Michael has 15 years’ experience in cross-border insolvency, asset tracing and recovery. Michael has particular experience of working on international assignments with lawyers and counsel on some of the most complex matters in the market. In particular, Michael has worked on a number of the highest-profile Russian and CIS cases, and he has extensive experience of dealing with assets and structures in Cyprus, Gibraltar, France, the BVI, Cayman Islands, Germany, Spain, India, New Zealand, Italy, Dubai, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the USA and the UK.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN ASSET RECOVERY?

When I started working in insolvency I was fortunate to be involved in a couple of large matters where companies had collapsed and it was necessary to establish the reasons the collapses had occurred. I really enjoyed the investigative aspects of that work; trying to piece together what had happened, who was responsible. I then began working on cases where there were allegations of fraud and again undertaking investigations was key. However, it was also important to identify some form of redress and then I became interested in the asset recovery process through legal means, for example, bringing claims under the Insolvency Act or taking control of structures located overseas. The investigative, strategic and legal elements all come together to make it a very interesting career!

WHAT DID YOU FIND CHALLENGING ABOUT ENTERING THE ASSET RECOVERY MARKET?

Persuading people that they need our services. That is still the case!

WHAT IS DRIVING THE INCREASED ACTIVITY IN ENFORCEMENT PROCEEDINGS? HOW IS THIS AFFECTING THE MARKET?

I think that claimants and their advisers are just a lot more savvy about the need to convert a judgment or award into hard cash, and the fact that obtaining the judgment or award is only half of the battle. The real driver for this has been the rise of the litigation funders; they are clearly only interested in financial returns so will look to fund cases only where they can see that the prospects of enforcement are realistic. It has changed the market, in that claimants are having to think far more broadly about their case than just the legal merits, and that brings opportunities for asset recovery specialists to advise on strategies to support the claim.

HOW DO INNOVATIVE APPROACHES TO THE USE OF COMMON LAW INFLUENCE YOUR WORK IN ASSET RECOVERY?

Our work, especially when developing a strategy, is defined by the law and how it develops, and often my team is a part of developing that law through our assignments. What is particularly interesting is seeing what precedents arise in other jurisdictions that could be applied on our cases and trying to apply similar principles to our own work.

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF MANAGING A HIGHLY INTERNATIONAL PRACTICE?

All our cases have international elements. The main challenges are around time differences; language barriers; understanding local customs and professions; handling assets in one country where ownership is in another country; addressing tax issues on realisations, etc. The list goes on, but these challenges will be overcome by instructing the right advisers!

WHERE, IN YOUR OPINION, DOES THE FUTURE OF ASSET RECOVERY LIE?

This is a constantly evolving field so the future of asset recovery as a profession is very exciting. I am seeing more enquiries in new areas such as family disputes, especially around HNW divorces and deceased estates, and in new regions, such as central Africa. I think that for practitioners it is essential that they can operate flexibly on a global basis, and adapting to technological changes will be key. I also believe that operating as adviser teams, ie, lawyers, funders and accountants, at a much earlier stage of a case will become the norm.

WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF CAREER ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?

Cash is king.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

Awards won by Michael Leeds

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