Commercial Litigation Summit 2019: The Value of a Strategic Comms Strategy in Litigation

This week, our Co-Founder and CEO Stuart Leach took part in a panel at The Commercial Litigation Summit. Speaking to Laura Durrant from White & Case and Parham Kouchikali from RPC, Stuart discussed the value that having a strategic comms strategy for a piece of litigation can bring with it. He highlighted that this plan does not prescriptively involve a media campaign, but can simply consist of effective outreach to a small number of key stakeholders. He stressed the importance of looking beyond the action in court when planning for the impact of litigation: whether a dispute is lost or won, what is disclosed in court can have serious implications further down the line if not carefully managed.

Based on an audience straw poll at the outset of the session on the importance of having a strategic communications plan in place for all litigation – a poll which initially returned an agnostic viewpoint, and grew more convinced of its value as the session went on – the panel looked at factors which influence the decision to build a strategic communications plan. They explored the nuanced issue of how to choose between a proactive or a reactive approach to communication about a case. They also agreed on the importance of developing a compelling and accessible narrative for conveying the client’s side of the case to key stakeholders, which can be conveyed directly but also indirectly by more strategic means such as via the legal pleadings that become publicly available documents once tendered in evidence.

Following questions from the audience, Stuart considered that the more public aspects of strategic communications – engaging with the media about a case – were relatively unlikely to hinder proceedings in court. He also addressed the question of whether larger corporate defendants are less likely than smaller corporates to settle because of reputational concerns, concluding that this is not necessarily the case. The needs of all parties are particular, as are the issues and sensitivities surrounding every dispute, and it would not be fair to say that just because an organisation is large it is immune to all reputational issues.

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