01 Mar 1999



Simmons & Simmons has achieved a significant strategic gain for its client Gallaher, the largest manufacturer of tobacco products for the UK market, in the first ever "smoking and health" group action brought in the UK.

This morning, at a hearing before Mr Justice Wright, the claims of 46 individuals bringing the group action against Gallaher and Imperial were abandoned with Leigh, Day & Co. and Irwin Mitchell withdrawing from the action. That leaves 7 claimants pursuing their claims, to whom the Court has given a period of time to reflect upon the position in which they now find themselves. Earlier this month, Mr Justice Wright declined the request of 8 Plaintiffs to pursue claims outside the period permitted by law. In the light of that judgment, Gallaher and Imperial agreed to a request from the Plaintiffs' lawyers to adjourn an application to enable them to consider with the claimants the future of this litigation. The culmination of that process was this morning's hearing.

Reacting to today's announcement, Tom Keevil, one of the partners leading the Simmons & Simmons team, says:

"From the outset we were confident that these claims would be defeated. That 46 out of 53 claims have been abandoned at this stage is a testament to our defence strategy and the excellence of Gallaher's team. Gallaher is a long standing client and gave every support to the defence strategy and preparations. We are pleased to have repaid that confidence by securing this significant strategic gain. The assignment of the Senior Master and Mr Justice Wright to oversee the actions at a relatively early stage has greatly assisted with the efficient management of the litigation."

The Simmons & Simmons litigation team is led by partners Miles Alexander and Tom Keevil. Principal support comes from Robert Johnson, Pete Coles, Phillip Brown, Zoe Morrison, Andrew Strong, Mike Caird and James Hope. This team is also supported by a dedicated team of paralegals and trainees.

Gallaher's in-house legal team is Chris Fielden and Chris Devereux.

The Counsel instructed by Simmons & Simmons are led by Justin Fenwick QC and Janet Turner QC, with assistance from Tom Weitzman, Catherine Gibaud and Ben Elkington.

Imperial is represented by Ashurst Morris Crisp and the Plaintiffs by Leigh, Day &Co. and Irwin Mitchell.

ENDS Notes for editors:

1. Simmons & Simmons is worldclass law firm with offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Lisbon, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York with over 1,400 staff worldwide. For further information on Simmons & Simmons please visit our website at

2. Simmons & Simmons has one of the strongest litigation practices in London. We can swiftly make available the resources necessary for dealing with the full range of disputes including highly sophisticated litigation which requires large teams working in different jurisdictions. Our approach is that prevention is better than cure and we have a well-developed programme for the Management of Legal Risk, which involves working closely with clients to identify areas of potential legal exposure and take preventative steps in order to avoid future litigation. Where disputes do arise we believe winning means achieving a realistic result as quickly and as efficiently as possible. We also recognise the value of alternative forms of dispute resolution and all practice members are trained in ADR techniques.