FIELD OF EXPERTISE

Litigation

Duncan Fairgrieve has a broad commercial practice, with significant experience of dispute resolution in an international and cross-border environment. As one of a small number of bilingual and dual-qualified litigators operating as both an English barrister and French Avocat, he frequently handles complex dispute resolution matters in both French and English. His in-depth experience of litigation in common law and civil law jurisdictions enables him to provide insight and reassurance for clients from common law backgrounds on dispute resolution in civil law fora. 
Duncan regularly provides expert evidence on French, English and Comparative Law issues in domestic and foreign proceedings, including before the French and English courts, as well as US and offshore jurisdictions. He has significant experience of dispute resolution in offshore jurisdictions, particular as an expert on the law of obligations in offshore jurisdictions, notably the Channel Islands where he has taught for many years at the Institute of Law in Jersey.

 

Recent Experience :

  • Advising on product liability in numerous cases in France and the UK.
  • Representing a UK yacht manufacturer in litigation in France;
  • Representing a South African company in a contractual dispute with a French pharmaceutical producer ;
  • Acting as expert in the context of large-scale litigation in the US raising issues relating to French tort and contractual liability ; 
  • Expert retained by Jersey-based offshore law firm in litigation raising English, French and comparative law issues ; 
  • Expert on comparative law issues in the context of litigation in a Caribbean country, raising issues of French law.

Litigation linked to international successions

Diane Le Grand de Belleroche advises her clients when looking at an amicable resolution of difficulties deriving from international successions, either before any claim is brought before the courts or after such proceedings have been started.

She also assists her clients, before the French courts, in the event of litigation which is linked to international successions and raises specific international questions such as the determination of the residence or the domicile at the time of death or that of the applicable succession law.

In the event of litigation linked to a succession which is brought before a foreign court, she also advises her clients when a particular expertise is needed on private client issues under French law. 

Business law

Duncan Fairgrieve has a broad commercial practice, acting both in an advisory capacity advising international companies on French commercial law matters, as well as undertaking representation in commercial and civil litigation. In an advisory capacity, he has a particular expertise in accompanying foreign companies in inward investment projects in France, with advice covering corporate, commercial and contract law aspects of investing in France.

 

Recent Experience :

  • Advising a UK agency on its expansion into the French market ;
  • Advising a Dutch company with international activities on its development in France of a regulated commercial activity ;
  • Acting for a US IT company on the creation of a subsidiary in France, and subsequent related legal issues involved in expansion in France;
  • Acting for a UK IT company in respect of the development of a corporate presence in France. 

Contract law

Duncan Fairgrieve advises on a wide range of contract law matters, often on behalf of foreign and international corporate clients. He has significant experience in drafting and negotiating the full range of commercial contracts, including distribution agreements, agency contracts, and sales agreements. 

 

Recent Experience :

  • Advising a UK company on the drafting and negotiation of an agency agreement with a French counterpart ;
  • Advising a US company on a raft of commercial contracts including non-disclosure agreements, and distribution agreements;
  • Advising a French multinational on the negotiation of a commercial services contract with cross-border aspects.
  • Advising a French design and advertising company on the drafting and negotiation of a design contract for an international project subject to English law.  

International private client issues

French and international succession law (legal advice and litigation)

The life of families is more and more international and, when someone passes away, a foreign element will often make the succession international. This element may be the fact that the deceased was living abroad at the time of his death, or that he held assets and rights outside of France, or that some of the heirs or legatees live abroad.

In such a situation, a client will need legal advice at different moments of his life.

BeFair Avocats, through Diane Le Grand de Belleroche, advises its clients before any succession arises, in the course of their estate planning, in order to introduce the legal and tax rules which will apply to their succession and to organise, with them and in advance, this succession between the various relevant countries by determining the documentation to be put into place, on the basis of the wishes of the clients as far as the transmission of their assets is concerned.

The role of BeFair Avocats is then to draw the clients’ attention to the particulars of their situation, as far as their assets are concerned, and to suggest the decisions which could be taken and the deeds and documents, such as wills, gifts to the surviving spouse or a choice of a relevant matrimonial regime, which can be put into place.

After the death, BeFair Avocats advises its clients in the management of the succession, in particular in relation to the operations of administration of the estate which must be organised in and between the different jurisdictions which are relevant.

The firm can also intervene in the event of litigation raising issues of international succession law.

Finally, this legal assistance will often imply a collaboration with other legal counsels, in France and abroad, to whom BeFair Avocats will bring its own ability so that the assistance of the client is as complete as possible. The very developed international connections of the firm will be very useful for this. 

Real estate matters

BeFair Avocats, through Diane Le Grand de Belleroche, advises its clients on real estate issues, in particular when real property is purchased in France or abroad. 

All project involving real property raises various issues, from the structuring of the real estate acquisition, to the taxes involved by the purchase and then by the fact of holding property, as well as the impact of this new asset on the future succession of its owners.

The answers to these questions will depend on the situation of each client who BeFair Avocats will advise on these different issues.

The firm will be able to use its French and international network to find the professionals (« notaires », legal counsels abroad) whose advice will be relevant for the matters relating to the client.   

Trust law

Trusts are a mode of management of assets which is very commonly used in common law countries, and in particular in England, in order to organise the transfer and the management of assets through the time, in a way which can be very flexible.

But the very concept of trust does not exist under French law and the recognition of foreign trusts raises important difficulties, as France has not ratified the 1985 Hague Convention on the law applicable to trusts and on their recognition. 

Severe tax rules have also been applying to trusts since a statute of 29th July 2011 and trusts which are linked to France face many tax consequences. 

BeFair Avocats, through Diane Le Grand de Belleroche, advises its French and foreign clients on the legal and tax questions which exist, in France, for trusts.

International tax issues linked to private clients

The fact of holding assets always leads to tax questions, which are related whether to the annual tax declarations which have to be made in France or to the tax rules which derive from specific operations which are linked to these assets.

Befair Avocats, through Diane Le Grand de Belleroche, advises its clients on these tax issues, of course taking into account the international context in which they evolve.

The international connections of the firm will also allow clients to be assisted by foreign legal counsels on specific tax issues of foreign law which may arise in their situation.

International law of matrimonial regimes / regimes linked to registered partnerships

The notion of matrimonial regime (or patrimonial regime in the event of a registered partnership such as PACS) is very important under French law and is always taken into account when the person is married or has concluded a registered partnership, whether the marriage / registered partnership end because of a divorce or because one of the spouses has passed away.

But this notion is sometimes not known in foreign legal systems, such as English law. As far as the legal systems which recognise this concept are concerned, the private international law rules which they use in order to determine these matrimonial regimes is often different from the French ones.

The coming application of the European regulations relating, on one hand, to matrimonial regimes and, on the other hand, to the property consequences of registered partnerships, also raises new questions in international situations. 

BeFair Avocats, through Diane Le Grand de Belleroche, advises its clients on these spcific questions, particularly when dealing with their estate planning. 

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