Statue of Justice Old Bailey

J Paul Sykes is a litigation and dispute resolution lawyer whose work has been recognised for a number of years for expertise and ranked highly in the Legal 500 & Chambers, including as a notable lawyer in litigation / insurance disputes / professional negligence.

2017 Legal 500:  “….Also recommended are Paul Sykes, who has an extensive track record handling professional negligence claims at Court of Appeal and Supreme Court levels, as well as before the European Court of Human Rights…”

“…Paul has been ranked highly in the Legal 500 over a number of years as a notable practitioner in litigated professional negligence/insurance disputes…”


2015 Legal 500: “…Paul Sykes, who ‘puts in a tremendous amount of work’, successfully defended Glassbrooks in a £7.5m professional negligence claim…”


Paul qualified as a Solicitor in 1984. He has extensive experience of all types of Civil and Commercial Litigation, including High Court and Chancery matters,  professional negligence, business and property claims, including corporate and banking cases, shareholder disputes, civil fraud, construction and engineering and insurance litigation matters, and disputes involving Partnerships, Probate, Trusts and Pensions.

Paul strongly supports ADR/Alternative Dispute Resolution wherever possible and adopts a pragmatic, client focussed approach throughout.




• Solicitor of the Senior Courts

• LLM Master of Laws Degree in Advanced Legal Practice (Distinction Awarded) Company and Commercial Practice & Procedure (De Montfort University)
• Qualified CTAPS ‘Contentious Trust & Probate Specialist’, Association of Contentious Trust & Probate Specialists

• Good Lawyer Guide 2010 “Outstanding legal practice”, “highly recommended”,
• Yorkshire Lawyer Awards: Dispute Resolution; finalist
• Member, Law Society

Paul has returned to Levi Solicitors, Leeds as head of litigation having previously been a partner at Levi’s for 25 years, then head of litigation at NE & Yorkshire firm BHP Law, and a director at another Legal 200 firm, Lupton Fawcett (Leeds, York, Sheffield).

The Continuing Paradox: A Critique of Minority Shareholder and Derivative Claims Under the Companies Act 2006 CJQ 2 [2010] p203-232


Clients say

“…Paul is a fine lawyer. He does not get flustered & his experienced and balanced view creates trust as well as managing realistic expectations.I would have no hesitation in endorsing J Paul Sykes as a superb lawyer who will battle in your interests, as he did for me…” 

Michael Cotler, Director, Specsavers

“… I would definitely recommend Levi Solicitors as I found their legal services to be professional, effective and efficient.  My case involved a complex and prolonged property dispute with a value of approximately £1m.  I have no doubt that it was the involvement of Levi Solicitors, in particular the tenacity of Paul Sykes, at a key stage in the litigation process that expedited a successful end to a complicated and painful case….”

C E Laurie, IT Project Management Consultant

“…Paul is a solid respected litigator. A very safe pair of hands. Approachable and friendly. Team player…”

Stephen Pritchett, Specialist Commercial and Property Counsel at Cobden House

“…Paul represented my husband after a severe accident, his steadfast determination and hard work brought the case to a satisfactory conclusion and I would not hesitate in recommending him…”

Angela Wallis, Company Director at BAF Printers  Limited



Recent successes include

  • 2020; Looking forward to continuing complex civil & commercial litigation work including a current professional negligence appeal before the Supreme Court in 2020 on “ex turpi causa” (important public policy issue meaning ‘from a dishonourable case an action does not arise’)
  • 2019; Winning unfair prejudice proceedings
  • 2019; Permission won to appeal to Supreme Court re solicitors negligence case
  • 2019; Heading off minority shareholder dispute
  • 2018; Settling substantial software fraud litigation
  • 2018; Winning Director’s unfair prejudice petition s.994 Companies Act 2006
  • 2018; Succeeding in proceedings regarding £1m serial fraudulent commercial mortgages (including issues of subrogation and forgery)
  • 2016-17; Pursuing extensive, historic, complex high value breach of contract and fraud claims against professional advisers on behalf of institutional clients
  • 2012/15; Led team in complex high value (£7.5m) successful defence of Solicitors Negligence claim (350 lever arch files, 3.5GB data) regarding large scale construction, development land and planning disputes, Judicial Review and complaints on conduct of High Court Litigation, Mediation and Adjudication. Achieving vindication for client and orders for costs against claimant. Recognised in Legal 500. Instructed by insurers
  • 2011/2015; Prolonged and interconnected proceedings involving Portuguese residents’ land investments, complex alleged frauds, appearing as amicus curiae witness via video link in Portuguese court regarding cross border litigation
  • 2012/2013; Complex new factory construction dispute (£8m damages claim)
  • 2012/13; Resolving complex acrimonious family Trust and Probate dispute on behalf of senior Probate lawyer personally. Cross-border and International dimensions.
  • 2012/2013; Substantial TCC (Technical & Construction Court) – power plant engineering dispute (£23m). Obtaining strike out and substantial costs recovered on behalf of Defendant specialist sub – contractor against leading city insurance firms, instructed by insurers: referred to Arbitration
  • Arrest of Foreign Registered / Insured Fishing vessel, [2012] Damages and costs recovered.
  • Defending Solicitors and defeating £3m claim, [2012] re Inter-company guarantee / debenture following liquidation; Obtaining a strike out under CPR 15.11.1. Instructed by insurers.
  • Halliwells LLP v NES Solicitors –v- Quinn Insurance Limited [2011] EWHC 947(QB) Claim No: HC0901045 Reported case: [2011] ALL ER [D] 243; At Trial, successfully opposing £1.5m claim against solicitors’ professional indemnity insurers, and obtaining order for costs of the claim. Complex financial fraud, establishing dishonesty by solicitors. Instructed by insurers
  • Recovering substantial damages against solicitors for negligence in an internet business purchase.
  • Winning at trial for solicitors’ professional indemnity insurers on a £1.5m claim for breach of undertaking claim for indemnity – relating to bogus gold delivery certificates and including legal definitions of “legal practice” and dishonesty.
  • Freezing order and injunction, obtaining judgement for substantial damages in civil fraud claim.
  • Obtaining substantial costs orders and enforcement in favour of Intervenor in cross border disputes. European Enforcement Orders Registered.

Other Notable cases

  • Halliwells LLP v NES Solicitors –v- Quinn Insurance Limited [2011] EWHC. 947(QB) Claim No: HC0901045 Reported case: [2011] ALL ER [D] 243


At Trial, successfully opposing £1.5m claim against solicitors’ professional indemnity insurers, and obtaining order for costs of the claim. This was despite summary judgment being granted against the defendant solicitors, NES. This is a notable case, involving a rare examination of insurer’s grounds for declinature, and the civil test of dishonesty regarding a solicitor. There is also helpful indicaton as to what is covered as solicitorial work under a professional indemnity insurance policy. The condoning of dishonesty was also addressed. The court ruled that the policy did not cover NES’s breach of undertaking because:-
a. NES had given the undertaking dishonestly;
b. The undertaking was not given in a solicitorial capacity;
c. The undertaking was given for NES’s own benefit


  • Disciplinary and regulatory proceedings: Niche in successfully advising Solicitors in disciplinary and regulatory proceedings, including partnership disputes and dismissal for alleged misconduct.
  • [2010 QBD] Winning £1M negligence claim against solicitors; Recovering substantial damages and costs against the solicitors for their negligent advice on purchase of a business. Settlement achieved at mediation, after issuing proceedings and prepared the case for trial. Funded on a Conditional Fee Agreement.
  • Complex brain injury and paraplegia sustained by adult. [Settlement approved February 2010]. Hybrid Periodic Payments order approved by the Court, on a full life basis the settlement package amounted to £8M. Complex history including liability dispute.


  • MAK and RK v the United Kingdom European Court of Human Rights [21 June 2010] (Applications number 45901/05 and 40146/06.)

Succeeding for two claimants, each establishing violations of European Convention on Human Rights, Article 8 (rights to respect for their family life) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

Separate professional negligence claims issued at European Court of Human Rights against Hospital and Social Services. Working with the Aire Centre (advice on Individual Rights in Europe).
Unanimous judgments in favour of two clients, represented from the outset in relation to their two separate claims. Inter alia dealing with balancing apparent conflicts of interests and extent of duty of care in statutory investigations regarding professional negligence matters, specifically claims in relation to duties and responsibilities of Hospitals and Social Services upon investigating alleged sexual abuse. This related to the UK Authorities’ treatment of a nine year old girl and her father, who was wrongfully suspected of sexually abusing her. Succeeding in establishing that their treatment breached the European Convention on Human Rights as to two violations of Article 8 (regarding both applicants’ rights to respect for their family life) and a violation under Article 13 (right to an effective remedy). Compensation and costs were awarded. The background was reviewed by Parliament and the JCHR was to investigate the right to an effective remedy in child protection cases which involve breaches of the right to private and family life.
Reported in The Times 19.4.2010 and elsewhere, following preliminary decision.


  • Complex infant paediatric brain injury claim. [Settlement approved May 2009]
    Successfully concluding 10 year long contested case. Recovering damages exceeding £5M for our disabled client who had sustained serious cognitive disabilities (calculated on a whole life basis with a hybrid lump sum and Periodic Payment order.)
  • Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform v Stapleton [2006] IEHC 43. 

Investigating 28 year UK history of disputed complex company fraud allegations including several banks, European Credit Guarantee Department, company insolvency etc. Assisting Irish lawyers in successfully opposing European Arrest Warrant (later overturned). Issues of Constitutional Law, European Convention on Human Rights. Defending Freezing injunction in England and allegations of historic multi million pound complex cross border fraud.


  • Steria Ltd & Ors., v R Hutchison & Ors. CH [2005]/App/578.

Only reported case to find in favour of pension scheme member who relied on terms of explanatory booklets, which directly contradicted the otherwise definitive Trust Deed. Test case with past and future costs granted to our client. Referred to Court of Appeal due to public importance. Overturned upon hearing before Court of Appeal.

  •  The Information Management Systems Management Plan Ref N00568, Decision of the Pensions Ombudsman [21.7.2005]

The complainant succeeded in establishing that his normal retirement date should be at age 62, and not 65 as stated by the Trustees. This was due to repeated representations made to complainant and relied on by him. The Trustees were directed to treat complainant as though his NRD was 62, without any actuarial reduction and the Trustees were also directed to pay him compensation.

  • JD -v- East Berkshire Community Health NHS Trust [2005] UK HL 23 (House of Lords Decision).

Recognition was given to the new right established in the Court of Appeal below, that children can now sue social services, hospitals and doctors for negligence regarding care or child protection proceedings / statutory investigations. However it was ruled that parents cannot. Parents held to have no rights to claim against professionals in child protection investigations. Dissenting judgment of Bingham LJ.

  • MAK & RK & Ors -v- Dewsbury NHS Trust & Kirklees MDC, Court of Appeal. [2003] 4 All ER 796.

Sole successful appeal in several linked appeals; landmark case, whereby House of Lords 1995 Judgment in X -v- Bedfordshire held not to have survived implementation of Human Rights Act (Article 8). Professional negligence, common law duties of care owed in Statutory investigations. Duties of Local Authorities, Social Services and Health Authorities. Establishes no immunity from suit regarding children’s claims for health authorities, doctors or social workers in negligently conducted child care investigations. (Reported in broadsheet leader / editorials).


  • S Allan -v- Nolan & Others, Court of Appeal [2002] EWCA Civ 85 CA

Duties of Professional Trustees; representing Claimant against Trustees of Pension Scheme and against Consulting Actuaries. Claims for breach of trust and resulting trusts in SSAS / Employer’s Pension Scheme. Rights of beneficiary to remedies claimed including damages and enquiries. Judgment upheld against the Principal Trustees.

  • Parkinson -v- St James & Seacroft University Hospitals NHS Trust. Court of Appeal [2001] 3 WLR 376

Damages for extra cost of bringing up disabled child awarded to mother who had undergone a negligently performed sterilisation. Conception and birth catastrophic for claimant who subsequently gave birth to a disabled child. Landmark case, establishing appropriate tests of foreseeability and proximity, and principles of distributive justice.
The House of Lords case of McFarlane v- Tayside Health Board had previously decided, in November 1999, that the parents of a normal healthy child born following such an operation or, in the case of McFarlane, a failed vasectomy operation, could not claim for the costs of bringing up that child. However that case did not specifically deal with the position in relation to a disabled child. The Court of Appeal decided in favour of Mrs Parkinson that the claimant can recover the extra expenses involved in bringing up a child with a significant disability.

  • Interoute Telecommunications (UK) Limited -v- Fashion Gossip Limited & Salco Communications Limited, The Times [10.11.1999] (Lightman J) (Referred to in White Book [CPR] and Legal 500)

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Civil procedure/ telecommunications. Guidance on Applications for Without Notice Orders including Freezing Orders, Third Party and None Party Orders for Disclosure of Documents etc.
Successfully obtaining an indemnity Costs Order on behalf of party affected, against claimant. “Heavy handed opponents punished by indemnity costs”. The Judge reiterated an important procedural point when he gave judgment in the High Court hearing. On applications without notice to the other side for relief, particularly for asset freezing injunctions, legal representatives were under a duty to provide full notes of the hearing with all expedition to any party that would be affected by the grant of that relief. An ex parte application for a Mareva injunction had been made. The client had been named in the injunction, but had otherwise been given no information on the proceedings.

His Lordship said that it was the duty of Counsel and solicitors, when making an ex parte application for relief, particularly in connection with freezing injunctions, to make in the course of the hearing a full note of the hearing either at the time or soon after, and to provide a copy of that note with all expedition to any party affected by the grant of relief. That was essential so that you might know exactly what had occurred, the basis and material on which the Order had been made and so be able to make an informed application for discharge. Obviously the client had been greatly inconvenienced by being mentioned in an injunction. Costs were recovered for the client because the Judge accepted complaints about the way that the case had been pursued.


  • Beeforth -v- Beeforth, Court of Appeal. [1998] EWCA Civ 1151.The Times [17.9.1998]

Establishing balancing exercise and proportionality regarding strike out and punitive powers of the Court. Successful reinstatement of Defence (Defendants represented by others in Court below). Also, defendants successful “Calderbank” offer on costs. Complex agricultural partnership. Inheritance and Family partnership issues. Extent of compliance with duty of discovery and breach of peremptory “Unless” Order. Indemnity, and damages obtained from previous Solicitors in subsequent professional negligence claim. Eviction from extensive farmland and properties overturned. (Referred to in Legal 500). Subsequent successful pursuit of beneficial settlement.
Details: Turning round an “Unmitigated Catastrophe”. When the Defendants in Beeforth and Beeforth were struck out of Court for delay, things could not have looked much bleaker for them. Their previous solicitors had failed to produce documents in Court by a specified date. Through no fault of their own, the clients had suffered their entire defence being struck out in a complex and high value acrimonious case that had already dragged on for 6 years. They had been ordered to pay all the costs.

To make matters worse, they had also been ordered to vacate their land. It was a particularly hard decision on them because this was more than just a case of losing a courtroom battle. It meant losing extensive farmland that for years had been a thriving agricultural business and leisure park. So when an existing client whom Paul Sykes had represented in a complex and difficult matter recommended that they talk to him, it was a great bit of legal advice!

The case had been decided in the Chancery Division. The striking out decision, which was for breach of a previous Court Order seemed not to deliver real justice. The case was taken up from scratch and challenged through the Court of Appeal. In succeeding, the decision was a legal precedent in “striking out of cases”, an important and fast developing part of the Law, the key argument accepted by the Court was based on “proportionality”. Due to experience and skill, plus a fundamental desire to see that justice was done, the clients were able to get the case back on the road. In addition, a sensible “without prejudice” offer of compromise which was rejected, resulted in a Costs Order against the opponent. This was all within 3 months of taking on the case.

“…It was very pleasing to be able to transform this matter from initially being an unmitigated catastrophe from first seeing the clients: within 3 months the judgement was overturned and the case was then driven forward to a successful conclusion. Action was also taken against the client’s previous Solicitors to win compensation and costs…”

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