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Now in its 20th year, the annual report identifies rising stars making their mark together with established individuals delivering what The Lawyer describes as noteworthy and challenging work.

John is a disputes and restructuring lawyer and co-leads the firm's global Restructuring, Turnaround and Insolvency practice. He advises on a broad range of general commercial litigation and contentious insolvency matters.

In addition to general commercial litigation matters, John's disputes expertise includes cross-border disputes, corporate fraud and recovery, as well as complex banking and tax disputes and dispute resolution. John also has significant restructuring and insolvency expertise advising on a broad range of contentious insolvency matters, including cross-border disputes and pension regulatory disputes. His work involves some of the largest and most high-profile insolvency, restructuring and pensions disputes in the United Kingdom, including cases with global ramifications.

2023 was an exceptional year for John. In October, he led a Herbert Smith Freehills team representing Abdool Ridwan (Ryan) Firaas Ah Seek (as part of the firm's ongoing work with the Human Dignity Trust) with the aim of challenging the constitutionality of Section 250 of the Mauritian Criminal Code, a British colonial-era law dating back to 1838. The provision criminalised private sexual conduct between consenting males, with those convicted facing a maximum penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment. In a momentous judgment which brought an end to 185 years of discrimination against Mauritius' LGBTQIA+ community, the Supreme Court in the country declared the provision is unconstitutional.

Also in 2023, alongside fellow partner Natasha Johnson, John co-led a team representing five former Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) of Carillion in relation to director disqualification proceedings. In October, the Secretary of State for Business and Trade dropped the proceedings, an endorsement for John and team's argument that the Insolvency Service was seeking to apply a duty which has never been the law. It is the most significant case for NEDs in the UK in a generation and would have had a profound impact for all directors had it succeeded.

The Lawyer’s annual Hot 100 list is compiled following extensive research into candidates’ client work and contribution to their firms, companies, and the wider legal profession.

The latest list can be viewed here:

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John Whiteoak

Partner, London

John Whiteoak

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For further information on this news article, please contact:

Tim Wells

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