Legal 500, 2015
Duncan read law at Bristol University, where he was also Vice-President of the University Debating Union. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1983. He was a senior lawyer at Hogan Lovells and then a partner at Lawrence Graham.
Duncan is a widely known commercial litigator. He is described in Legal 500 (the foremost client and peer review of leading recommended lawyers) as “indefatigable” in helping his clients and is named as “the client’s champion”.
Amongst numerous client testimonials, Duncan is described as “positive and kind”, “supportive”, “immensely hardworking”, “inventive and resourceful” and “a wonderful lawyer”.
A leading national referrer of work to high quality law firms states:
“Our large staff have referred litigation matters to Duncan for almost 10 years. We regard him as consistently practising at the very highest level of ability for our referred clients, an assessment borne out repeatedly by the fantastic feedback from clients across a wide range of often complex and demanding matters. Duncan is highly responsive, diligent and capable. He is straightforward and friendly to work with. He has delivered many outstanding results for clients. We rank Duncan in the very top tier of the hundreds of lawyers we deal with.”
Duncan has been named in successive weeks as both “Lawyer of the Week” in The Times newspaper, and as “Lawyer in the News” in The Law Society Gazette for his work on unusually important and challenging cases.
Duncan's various charitable activities are outlined below.
Commercial Litigation Work
Duncan has conducted many substantial company, commercial, and banking disputes, contested probate and trusts matters and serious clinical and professional negligence claims. Amongst his leading cases is A, B and C v The Republic of Ireland (2011) a landmark result across Europe, heard in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.
In 2014, Duncan led a team acting for an intermediary company in claims for substantial damages and injunctive relief against a legal team of some 50 lawyers representing a major global manufacturer under Article 102 of the Treaty of the Functioning of The European Union and Section 18 of the Competition Act 1998 for abuses of a market dominant position in relation to determination of supplies. The case settled before trial on confidential terms.
Some of the client testimonials for Duncan’s Commercial Litigation work:
“We faced an almost hopeless David v Goliath undertaking. Our immense gratitude for an extraordinarily favourable outcome. Even our adversaries were pleased finally to settle amicably. We have great respect for Duncan's professional approach and positive and kind personality”.
“As head of a family tree of UK and overseas companies, I have instructed Duncan McNair as my solicitor on many complex matters of very considerable importance over the past decade. These have involved commercial, corporate, insolvency and property law and disputed estates across Europe. Duncan has proved himself a wholly reliable, committed and highly able lawyer who always has the wellbeing of his clients at the forefront. These challenging cases have needed rapid thought and action as well as a clear long term strategy and successful execution. Duncan has consistently delivered absolutely excellent results. He is also great to work with – amenable, responsive and technically proficient. He is extremely highly regarded by myself and my colleagues.”
“Duncan rebuilt and pro-actively drove the case and focused on the crucial points. I wish we had engaged him earlier. A hugely favourable outcome for me, my company and its shareholders.”
“My whole family are very keen to record our appreciation to Duncan. We realised the many problems and dangers in our case. Duncan devised a strategy and led us to a quite wonderful result – miles beyond what we ever thought possible. From start to finish he has been kind, supportive and brave against the most formidable opponents. A wonderful lawyer.”
Duncan is currently working for numerous claimants regarding mis-selling of property in Cyprus. He has been at the forefront of moves to progress claims against all major Cyprus banks, developers and others towards resolutions. Whilst not all cases can prove capable of settlement, Duncan’s team has achieved increasing numbers of resolutions.
Highly challenging and often urgent, these complex cases are frequently misunderstood. In October 2015 – a sensitive time for many Cyprus claims – a backbench MP also appears to have misunderstood the facts and law. Amongst many misstatements, he described a very real loan as "mythical" and characterised an improper transaction as reasonable and sensible. Independent counsel specialising in this field has investigated the MP's commentary and concludes that it was “wholly ill-informed, misleading, inaccurate and irresponsible” and arguably “a misuse of an MP’s privilege”. The MP seemingly failed beforehand to consider adequately the legal and factual complexities of these cases; nor to consult those specialising in the area so as to properly inform himself. Despite the risk of harm to claimants, he has not responded to requests to correct the record or to work with those helping claimants.
Some of the client testimonials for Duncan’s Cyprus work:
“Extremely hard and successful work, well thought through strategy, a far better outcome than we had expected in a very complex situation”.
“Duncan worked tirelessly on our case. A highly successful outcome”.
“Very reasonable cost for the service being provided. I recommend Duncan without reservation to anybody dealing with financial institutions abroad”.
“Without Duncan’s help we would not have received the result that we did. We wouldn’t have stood a chance. A force for good to be reckoned with for which we are extremely grateful”.
“We praise Duncan’s hard and highly effective work in our very difficult and challenging case. Constantly attentive and assiduous and willing to help at any time of the day or late evening. The result was far better than I ever expected”.
“Extremely successful work in a very difficult case. Cubism has been very reasonable about fees and the result is highly cost-effective”.
Duncan undertakes extensive pro bono charitable work.
In 2012/2013 he was asked to lead a major enquiry for the RSPCA into their Freedom Food assurance scheme, on the welfare of farmed animals throughout the UK. Serving on Duncan’s Panel were a former cabinet minister and Secretary of State and a leading veterinary scientist, assisted by the RSPCA’s past Chief Veterinary Officer. The Panel took evidence from a wide range of interests involved in and concerned with animal food production, including major businesses engaged in the farming, agriculture and food retail markets and their supply chains. The recommendations in the McNair Report were unanimously approved and adopted by the governance of the RSPCA which has since built on the Report in developing RSPCA Assured – dedicated to the welfare of hundreds of millions of farm animals, and influential on other schemes across the world.
In 2015 Duncan founded Save The Asian Elephants (www.stae.org), a not for profit coalition of professionals, politicians, academics, scientists and field experts campaigning to protect the highly endangered Asian elephant from abuse and extinction.
Duncan addresses various audiences on this urgent cause at companies, universities and in the Westminster and European Parliaments. In 2006 he led a debate at the Cambridge Union.
Duncan regularly contributes articles to the press and digital media on a range of food, retail and animal welfare issues.
Duncan was the co-founder, legal adviser to and governor of a major independent school.
Duncan’s books “The Morello Letters” (2006) and “More Morello Letters – Pen pal to the super stars” (2011) have both been named Number 1 bestsellers for humour-parody by Amazon. Both books have been widely reviewed and acclaimed. In 2012 The Morello Letters was included by BBC Radio 4 listeners amongst their funniest books ever in Open Book’s Listeners’ Funniest Books hosted by Mariella Frostrup.