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William McCormick QC


Call date: 1985 (QC 2010)
Telephone number: 020 7400 9600

William McCormick QC

Call date: 1985 (QC 2010)
Telephone number: 020 7400 9600


A very good advocate who is passionate in his delivery and very user friendly.

Chambers and Partners – 2020 – Defamation/Privacy

He’s a proper street fighter who really gets involved in the case and works with solicitors in a joint effort.

Chambers and Partners – 2020 – Commercial Dispute Resolution

A tenacious and formidable barrister who is hard-working and deadly in cross-examination..

Chambers and Partners – 2020 – Commercial Dispute Resolution

He is noted for his insightful analysis, his cut straight to the core issues and his unambiguous approach.

Legal 500 – 2020 – Company and partnership

Extremely user-friendly

Legal 500 – 2020 – Defamation/Privacy

Very accomplished. Very engaging and good with the court.

Chambers and Partners – 2019 – Defamation/Privacy

A tenacious and formidable counsel who prides himself on attention to detail, and is hard-working and deadly in cross-examination.

Chambers and Partners – 2019 – Commercial Dispute Resolution

He is a highly experienced litigator.

Legal 500 2018

Great advocate and a real team player.

Legal 500 2018

Streetwise and savvy, he’s very affable with clients, and in tune with the way they’re thinking.

Chambers UK 2018

Prides himself on attention to detail, and is deadly in cross-examination.

Chambers UK 2018

A top QC who is incisive and fearless. He is simply excellent with clients.

Chambers UK 2018

He is creative in his thinking, very hard-working, responsive and always available.

Chambers UK 2018

Practice areas

Business Media & sport Property & private client 

William’s practice covers a wide range of cases in which his expertise as a litigator means he is in high demand. Directories praise him in the fields of Commercial Dispute Resolution, Company & Partnership & Defamation for his “great legal knowledge and an uncanny ability to identify problems at an early stage”, for being “simply excellent with clients” and as “a tenacious and savvy advocate, who is quick to get to grips with the papers”. “He is a first class tactician and always impressive on his feet. He has a really lovely advocacy style. He is charming, energetic.”

In addition, both the Supreme Court and Privy Council have praised his advocacy in judgments – “spirited and impressive” [2017] UKSC 33 and “force and realism” [2014] UKPC 6. He has also appeared in the Courts of Appeal of both Trinidad & Tobago and the Dubai International Financial Centre.


William handles a broad range of business related cases, with the bulk involving either disputes between businesses or concerning the ownership and conduct of businesses. He is recommended in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Company & Partnership ‘Particularly for offshore company disputes’ having acted or advised in cases concerning companies in Dominica and the Far East: Energenics & Neuftec v Hazarika [2014] EWHC 1845 (Ch), the Bahamas: Cordes v Sentinel [2008] UKPC 60 and the Isle of Man.

Examples of such cases are

Successfully defending the Gerant (CEO) of a Luxembourgish Company who was alleged to have negligently failed to identify conduct said to be part of  a world-wide conspiracy that has defrauded the Danish Tax Authorities of more than £1.2bn.

Representing an insurer in ongoing arbitration proceedings against a firm of solicitors in respect of the issuing of ATE policies and the conduct of the linked litigation.

Representing a Seychelles company suing Singapore-based Trust Company for procuring breach of contract relating to major property development by Company for which it provided directors pursuant to service agreements.

AMP Advisory and Management Partners v. Force India Formula One Team Limited [2019] EWHC 2426 (Comm) in which he successfully secured a quantum meruit for work done (without a contract) in assisting in the securing of a title sponsor.

Representing German based business in claim for compensation under the Commercial Agent Regulations and claim against solicitors for failing to properly advise the business as to its exposure to risk under those Regulations

Representing a business in an action for negligence in taking proper steps to register its design rights in the Far East.

Rangers Retail v TRFC [2017] EWHC 737 (Ch) – a case concerning the ability of a JV partner to bring a derivative action when the JV agreement purports to exclude any right to sue the defendant.

An unfair prejudice petition (alleging unfair dilution) was settled following cross-examination of the company’s accountant exposing his lack of understanding of the company’s solvency.

Re Mister Dee International [2009] EWHC 1902 (Ch) and [2010] EWCA Civ 1408 – successfully resisting a claim for unfair prejudice relief and the setting aside of a share transaction in a 3 week hearing and in the Court of Appeal.

Cases where directors or employees are said to have breached their duties for their own benefit (or the benefit of others) include

Affinity Workplace Solutions Limited v McCann and others [2019] EWHC 2829 (Ch) and Monex Europe Limited v Pothecary & another [2019] EWHC 1714 (QB)  both of which involved enforcing post-termination restrictive covenants..

Re Ruskin Private Hire Ltd [2017] resisting claims by a liquidator against the finance director for breach of duty and trust.

Energenics & Neuftec v Hazarika [2014] EWHC 1845 (Ch) resisting claims for damages based on breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty against the seller of a Dominican company.

Killen v Horseworld Ltd [2012] EWHC 363 (QB) obtaining an account from a defaulting director who diverted corporate opportunities to a new company bought by her after she had been dismissed for attempting a similar diversion .

William led the team representing Rangers International FC, The Rangers Football Club and its Chairman Dave King in the dispute with Mike Ashley and Sports Direct PLC. He secured the dismissal as an abuse of process of an application to commit Mr King to prison [2016] EWHC 85 (Ch), the striking out of parts of that substantive claim and the imposition of terms upon Sports Direct PLC when it sought to discontinue the balance of its claim on the eve of the trial. He was retained on the further actions then brought against and by Sports Direct until the overall disputes were eventually compromised.

In the trial of a dispute between competing funeral plan suppliers, following cross-examination of the claimant company’s witnesses the claimant discontinued its claim and its managing director (and final witness) resigned the following day.

William has also acted successfully on behalf of claimants seeking damages from banks and solicitors for mis-selling or mishandling of financial and property transactions, including:

An IT start-up seeking damages for loss of the chance to develop its product because its banker breached the conditions of the loan upon which it was relying.

Individuals and corporations who sustained losses due to negligent advice about the level of risk of certain investments or the ineffectiveness of schemes presented to them as “tax efficient” or who were mis-sold interest rate “swap” products.

In Trinidad & Tobago his cases include disputes over the development/construction of multi-million pound hotel and villa leisure resorts and substantial highway contracts: Namalco v EMBD and others.

Media & sport

William has long been recommended in the field of defamation and privacy where his trial experience and ability to provide early well-focused advice enable him to provide a complete service.

William represented Simon Singh in the ground-breaking action brought by the British Chiropractic Asociation [2010] EWCA Civ 350 which contributed to the passing of the Defamation Act 2013.

He represents a Polish port authority in the action brought against it in England  by the owners and executives of a recycling plant turning on the alleged breach of local environmental laws which resulted in the first ever discretionary declining of jurisdiction in a libel case under the Recast Brussels Regulation: Euroeco Fuels (Poland) Ltd & others v Szczecin and Swinoujscie Seaports Authority SA & others [2018] EWHC 1018 (QB). The CA overturned the decision:  [2019] EWCA Civ 1932 and an application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court is pending.

He is currently representing Arron Banks in his libel action against Carol Cadwalladr arising out of her allegations that he lied about a secret relationship with the Russian Government in relation to accepting foreign funding in breach of UK referendum law: [2019] EWHC 3451 (QB). He advised Mr Banks in his dispute with the Electoral Commission over statements it made about him which was settled on the basis of a statement by the Commission that it accepted the NCA’s decision that it had found no evidence that any offences had been committed.

He also represented the owners of the nationally known “heir hunter” Anglia Research Services Limited in their successful libel claim against a  competitor, for statements made in emails to sales persons.

In Barron & others v Collins and UKIP [2018] EWHC 253 (QB) William successfully obtained an order that UKIP was liable for the costs of three Labour MPs in suing UKIP MEP Jane Collins for libel in a speech delivered at the UKIP Conference because it had manipulated her defence of that action in the hope of political advantage in the 2015 general election.

He successfully represented the claimant in Miller v ANL [2017] UKSC 33 in which the attempt by various newspapers to strike down the recoverability of additional liabilities in publication cases failed.

Other clients in defamation matters that are in the public domain include Dr Liam Fox MP [2013] EWHC 1435 (QB); Sally Bercow, in the claim brought by Lord McAlpine arising out of her use of twitter [2013] EWHC 1342 (QB), Tesla Inc in its libel action against Top Gear [2013] EWCA Civ 152, Richard Dawkins [2012] EWHC 3 (QB) and the claimant in Cooper v Associated Newspapers & Evening Standard (one of the last jury trials for libel) in which he secured an award of £65,000 for an individual accused of masterminding the Millbank riots.

In the allied field of breach of confidence he successfully resisted the intended use by Times Newspapers (in its defence of separate libel proceedings) of documents obtained in breach of confidence: MPS & SOCA v TNL & Gillard [2011] EWHC 776, 1566 & 2705.

He is regularly engaged to advise in cases involving the mis-use of private information and defended Tamara Ecclestone’s former partner in the dispute in which each alleged such mis-use against the other and Ms Ecclestone sought unsuccessfully to reclaim the Lambourghini Aventador that she had given him as a birthday present (and the number plate she gave him for Christmas).

In addition to having advised sportspersons on media related issues William has experience of advising on sports contracts (including Formula One) and has experience of contractual disputes in boxing (Sports Network v Calzaghe [2009] EWHC 480 (QB) [2010] EWHC 71 (QB)) and football, having been instructed on behalf of Glasgow Rangers FC in its long-running dispute with Sports Direct over their commercial relationship:  [2016] EWHC 85 (Ch) and [2017] EWHC 737 (Ch).

In AMP Advisory and Management Partners v Force India Formula One Team Limited [2019] EWHC 2426 (Comm) he obtained a quantum meruit on behalf of the claimant for work done without an agreed contact in connection with the title sponsorship for the Formula One Team.

Property & private client

William handles cases concerning disputes over real property or between private individuals both in the UK and abroad.

In 2019 William represented claimants seeking to enforce their rights against a joint venturer developer of property transferred or charged by them to him.  Their claim was met with pleas of fraud, forgery, misrepresentation and breach of the joint venture agreement on their part. On the eve of trial the developer  abandoned his case.

Patrick v McKinley [2017] EWCA Civ 2068 – successfully representing the respondent to an appeal in respect of alleged beneficial interests in properties arising over a period of years.

Dattani v Damac Ltd (DIFC March 2015) – resisted the appeal of a developer against judgment for damages based upon the failure to complete a residential and retail project in Dubai.

In Marriott (by Keith Cousins) v Dougherty-Marriott he successfully represented the defendant wife against claims to a 50% share of a flat that had been gifted to her and to joint ownership of furnishings that she had brought to the marriage.

Patel v Mirza [2013] EWHC 1892 (Ch) and [2014] EWCA Civ 1047 – represented the defendant in a case at trial and in the Court of Appeal arguing issues of illegality.

In addition to representing businesses in claims against advisors and banks he also acts on behalf of individuals who have been similarly disadvantaged whether by financial mis-selling or (by way of example) the negligent loss of an the opportunity to deal at a profit in shares immediately following an IPO.

William represented the claimant in Court of Appeal in Scullion v BoS (t/a Colleys) [2011] EWCA Civ 693 seeking to establish a duty of care to buy-to-let purchasers. The appeal to the Supreme Court was compromised weeks before it was due to be herd.

His case-load in Trinidad & Tobago has covered cases concerning the development/construction of multi-million pound hotel and villa leisure resorts as well as disputes between companies controlled by high-profile individuals: Real Time Ltd v Renraw Ltd [2014] UKPC 6.


William’s employment law caseload includes claims for breach of contract and fiduciary duty of senior or high value employees or company officers and linked actions to prevent breaches of post-termination restrictions by both former employees and the competitors seeking to employ them.

Examples of such matters  are:

Injunctions seeking to restrain ex-employees from competing in FX markets and in the education and medical recruitment sectors: Affinity Workplace Solutions Limited v McCann and others  [2019] EWHC 2829 (Ch)  and Monex Europe Limited v Pothecary & another [2019] EWHC 1714 (QB)..

Re Ruskin Private Hire Ltd [2017] resisting claims by a liquidator against the finance director for breach of duty and trust.

Energenics & Neuftec v Hazarika [2014] EWHC 1845 (Ch) resisting claims for damages based on breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty against the seller of a Dominican company.

Killen v Horseworld Ltd [2012] EWHC 363 (QB) obtaining an account from a defaulting director who diverted corporate opportunities to a new company bought by her after she had been dismissed for attempting a similar diversion.

He advised Tony Blackburn over his contractual position following his temporary departure from the BBC in 2016 and has advised on sporting contracts including in Formula One.


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