Simon Leaf, Managing Associate, Dispute Resolution

Simon Leaf

Legal Director

Personal Profile

Simon is a Sports and Technology lawyer and leader of the Firm's Sports Group.

Simon specialises in advising clients (ranging from fast-growth start-ups to internationally listed companies, as well as governing bodies, major clubs, sponsors, intermediaries and athletes) on IP, GDPR, regulatory and commercial law-related issues. He regularly works on significant broadcasting matters, image/digital rights agreements, sponsorship arrangements and international transfers.

Recent experience includes acting on what has been reported as boxing's first ever billion dollar deal, negotiating a major Premier League sponsorship contract for a fast growing African country and assisting on a F1 naming rights deal.

On the regulatory side, he advises clients on an array of issues including Financial Fair Play, Third Party Ownership and Intermediaries Regulations, as well as several governing bodies and other non-sports clients on a wide selection of commercial law and privacy-related matters.

The other major part of Simon's practice is Technology, where he has a breadth of experience across a number of important related areas. In particular, he has worked on several high profile and global proptech, adtech, retail, leisure, esports and betting & gaming deals.

Recent highlights include advising a fast-growth Swedish technology SaaS company on a number of its most important commercial agreements opposite its key customers, assisting a number of proptech companies on IP/software licensing and GDPR-related issues, and several FTSE 100/S&P 500 companies on major IT outsourcing, global networks and data centre contracts. Simon regularly acts on both the 'customer' and 'supplier' side of these technology, outsourcing and licensing matters – and is therefore able to use this experience to his clients' advantage.

He has featured in the national press, commenting on topics ranging from the key legal issues to consider in relation to driverless cars and drone delivery to the interpretation of commercial contracts – as well as commenting on sports-related legal matters for Sky News, the Guardian, BBC News and City AM, among others.

Simon completed secondments with Dell and Tesco whilst at his previous firm.

Simon is a mentor for the start ups taking part in MDR LAB and up until recently acted as semi-professional football referee; officiating on National Conference, Premier League Under 23 and Football League Reserve team matches.

Key Experience

Sports Experience

  • Advised on what is reported to be boxing's first ever billion dollar OTT broadcasting deal
  • Acted for a major African country in relation to its UK sports sponsorship activities
  • Worked with several high-profile athletes and intermediaries across a range of sports on transfer, image rights, sponsorship and contractual-related issues
  • Assisted a number of major betting and gaming clients on sponsorship/naming rights, data and commercial law issues – including across multiple sports
  • Provided legal assistance to several governing bodies on a range of legal issues – including some of the client's most important contracts with athletes, undertaking regulatory reviews and providing GDPR-related advice
  • Advised a governing body on several important matters – including resolving a multi million pound multi-party dispute and in relation to an external investment into the sport by a well-known private equity group
  • Worked for a number of fast-growth sports technology and esports clients on a range of contractual law issues
  • Negotiated international football transfers opposite a number of Europe and South America's largest clubs
  • Advised a large blue chip client on a major Premier League shirt sponsorship deal and have advised clubs on their template commercial partner agreements

Technology Experience

  • Lead Associate on the drafting and negotiating of a number of major network service integrator and provider contracts for several FTSE 100 and S&P 500 clients
  • Supported a number of innovative PropTech and AdTech companies on a range of contractual law and privacy related matters – including advising on key reseller and distributor relationships
  • Provided a number of the Firm's betting and gaming clients with advice on IT/IP and data licensing arrangements
  • Assisted a fast growth Swedish SaaS provider with some of its most important commercial agreements – effectively acting as their UK GC for an extended period of time 
  • Advised a global multi-channel retailer on a number of its most important commercial and technology contracts – including its media buying/creative agency agreements, check-out software/hardware/maintenance agreements and distribution contracts
  • Worked with a NASDAQ-listed technology supplier on an applications development agreement opposite a major international bank
  • Acted for a listed vehicle retail and logistics provider on an exclusive outsourcing and commercial agreement opposite a FTSE 100 international bank
  • Supported one of the world’s largest media, digital and creative communications agencies, a FTSE250 events company and a major internationally listed services and distribution company on a number of high profile commercial technology deals involving the purchase of data centre and cloud services opposite a number of different suppliers

Career History

Legal Director, Mishcon de Reya LLP
Associate, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP
Trainee, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP
University of Cambridge, Management Studies

Articles and Publications

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