London, United Kingdom
Duncan is a senior consultant lawyer at Cubism Law in London. He has successfully conducted numerous commercial litigation and other matters in the 30+ years he has been practising as a lawyer. He has been named in the leading directory of independent reviewers of lawyers as “the clients’ champion” and as “indefatigable”. He has been both the “Lawyer of the Week” in The Times newspaper, and “Lawyer in the News” in The Law Society Gazette.
Duncan enjoys numerous professional testimonials as to his standing as a lawyer and ability to obtain highly successful results for clients – see below.
He responds quickly and effectively and is rated as having a high level of strategic and technical ability. Where necessary he work in a team giving support and additional capabilities.
Duncan has achieved numerous excellent results in difficult and complex cases. Duncan is consistently rated as responsive, accessible and an extremely hard worker for his clients.
In addition to Duncan's legal practice, he founded and is CEO of a national charity fighting to save elephants from extinction, and the author of a series of No 1 bestselling humour books.
Duncan is a very experienced and accomplished public speaker on professional and other topics, often to large and distinguished audiences.
See his Wikipedia entry here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_McNair
Duncan has conducted numerous often complex and difficult commercial litigation cases highly successfully over the past 30+ years. These have included cases from nearly £1 billion down to many in six figures. He has successfully conducted numerous trials and mediations. This experience helps him to lay strategies to secure successful outcomes for clients. Amongst his high profile cases is a leading case cross Europe of A, B and C v The Republic of Ireland (2011) a landmark result heard in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights which Duncan successfully conducted.
Another was in 2014 in which he led a team for a small company taking on one of the world’s largest global manufacturers alleging abuse of a market dominant position. The case settled before trial on confidential terms.
Duncan has conducted various disputed probate and wills cases highly successfully with excellent results (see Testimonials).
In 2013 Duncan chaired a national Inquiry commissioned by the RSPCA into its Freedom Food animal welfare assurance scheme. Serving on his committee were a Secretary of State and Cabinet Minister, and a distinguished professor of veterinary science. The McNair Inquiry and Report formed the basis of the RSPCA’s strategy for the Assured Scheme which is dedicated to improving the welfare of farm animals across the UK and the world.
Duncan's work is very important to him because it can change people’s lives for the better and it is immensely satisfying for him to help clients.
1975 - 1978
Vice-President of the University Debating Union
“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.”
Complex dispute Will case:
“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.”
“I have instructed Duncan over recent years in several inter-related disputes of great importance to my future. I had heard that Duncan took on ‘difficult’ cases. Many individuals, some of high eminence, have been involved and many really tricky aspects needed attention. Duncan was brilliant but personable throughout, thoughtful and diligent, and his planning always covered every aspect. He has steered me through many problems to wonderful results that have proved immensely valuable to me.”
Duncan acted successfully in a highly complex series of directors' disqualification and insolvency proceedings for directors and the threat of criminal proceedings and claims involving approaching £10 million and extensive correspondence and meeting with Department of Business Innovation and Skill, all allegations against Duncan's clients were dropped".
A complex intellectual property and commercial litigation matter involving the control of a family owned company. Three previous solicitors had been retained by the clients. Duncan was appointed and rebuilt the case and drove it to a substantial success for the client.
Heavily contested disputed Will case brought by Duncan's client to declare the validity of a Will in her favour. Duncan's client was opposed by a large family of prominent professional people. Despite the disparity in financial resources as between the two opposing parties, after mediation the opponents' resistance to the Will gave way and the entire Estate was inherited by Duncan's client who was awarded the costs of the proceedings.
Amongst his leading successful 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.
The Government has utterly failed to bring accountability to the food industry, says Duncan McNair.
6:50PM GMT 14 Jan 2014
This month marks the first anniversary of the horsemeat scandal in the UK. Those concerned for consumer safety and animal welfare alike were entitled to expect vigorous action. But the Government and food industry have yet to take effective action to stem the disastrous consequences of appallingly long and convoluted supply chains where all accountability is lost, featuring excessive animal suffering and rotting carcasses through to widespread adulteration of meat products delivered into supermarkets for consumption by millions. Urgent rehabilitation of our failing system of food production and distribution is the only way to restore consumer confidence in the food we eat.
A year on, the only ongoing action by government is the Elliott review. Commenting on the interim report last month, Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, claimed "there are good systems in place to ensure UK consumers have access to some of the safest food in the world" and that "the UK food industry already has robust procedures to ensure they deliver high quality food to consumers".
This endorsement sits uneasily with the litany of failures of our regulatory system in recent years, among them salmonella in eggs, then BSE, foot and mouth disease, unlawful antibiotics in meat and honey, chemical contaminants in fish, and now the horrors for both man and beast of the horsemeat fiasco with its daily new revelations. This recent history discloses a deep rooted, systemic failure borne of successive governments' failure to grapple effectively with fast-changing methods of food production. New and highly technical processes, the ever-burgeoning industrialisation and globalisation of food production and the changing balance of power in the food business all contribute to a situation which government at both national and EU levels has found impossible to control, and sometimes to understand. Few expect the crises to stop here.
DEFRA, charged with responsibility for the food supply chain and negotiating reform of food subsidy regimes, has fallen short. Its refusal to support the mandatory labelling of meat as to farming method, or labelling of all meat as to the country where the animal was born, cause disquiet. Anxieties also arise from its failure to resist mega-dairies, cloning of farm animals and lack of any progress in bringing live animal exports to an end – all issues where high levels of public concern are regularly expressed. The Food Standards Agency, founded in 2001 in acknowledgment of the need for an independent body to protect the consumers following various foodborne illnesses, despite its scientific expertise, has fared no better, demoralised by cutbacks and in 2010 the transfer away of key nutrition and food labelling policy responsibilities.
In the exercise of their food safety and hygiene responsibilities, local councils, stretched and depleted by the new austerity, have proved no match for the commercial might of the large vested interests, heavily resourced and bristling with lawyers. The existing structure is inadequate, its performance under stress woeful.
The Elliott review is directed to focus on "consumer confidence in the authenticity of all food products". Its proposal of a specialist food crime unit is certainly necessary, to tackle individual acts of fraud. But the danger is an overemphasis on effects rather than causes. Trust will not be restored without the key wider issues being rigorously investigated. Among these are scrutiny of absurdly long supply chains, the activities of food processing companies, the continuing entrenchment of power with the big retailers, the supermarkets’ and regulators’ ongoing failure to identify numerous instances of food adulteration, and lack of vigilance as to animal welfare in food production.
Last year I chaired an independent review commissioned by the RSPCA into Freedom Food, the leading farmed animal welfare assurance scheme. My panel included Caroline Spelman, the former Environment Secretary, and Professor David Main, a distinguished academic veterinarian. We took submissions from numerous parties concerned with the food industry. All interests and shades of opinion responded. The recommendations of the McNair Report inform my view that only a root and branch overhaul of the regulatory system will enable consumers to trust what they are told they are eating.
Openness and transparency between retailers and consumers as to farming methods are the key to restoring public confidence. Farmed animals outnumber domestic pets by 40 to 1. No wonder in a nation of animal lovers consumer concern for animal welfare has steadily risen. Authoritative research consistently links animal wellbeing to meat of a higher nutritional quality. New polling by Populus shows 77 per cent would have greater confidence in the food chain if standards for farmed animals improved.
In place of the FSA, a new and properly resourced body is needed committed to enhancing consumer safety and animal welfare in the food industry, focusing on transparency and accountability in the supply chain and intelligible labelling of animal products; with a wide remit to licence, regulate, discipline, investigate and prosecute and to recommend standards. It should stand independent of government and the various departments with which its brief overlaps, but engage with it at national and EC levels; publish reports of its activities and findings and make policy recommendations.
Public confidence in the integrity of food supply chains is seriously damaged. Rarely has the axiom been truer that trust must be earned. This will be achieved only by a new openness and by a revived political will to build a system that is fit for purpose.
Duncan McNair is a solicitor and was Chairman of the McNair Inquiry and Report
Duncan acted for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, which successfully intervened in the case of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service against the Secretary of State for Health.
In the 2015 edition, Duncan was named as “the client’s champion” and as “indefatigable”.
Duncan appeared in the Law Society Gazette's "Lawyer in the News"section over successive weeks for his work on unusually important and challenging cases.
Duncan was appointed a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in 2002.