Legal Business Blogs

Clifford Chance snares BLP’s contentious tax head

Senior exits from Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) continue apace as Clifford Chance has confirmed the hire of Liesl Fichardt, the head of BLP’s contentious tax practice.

Announced today (4 September), the loss is a blow to the tax team at the 782-lawyer BLP as heavyweight Fichardt, who joined the firm in 2008, is a veteran of the legal market. Acknowledged in the Legal 500 as a ‘masterful team head,’ she also practised as a tax barrister for 13 years before joining Dorsey & Whitney in 2006.

The news comes just two weeks after the announcement that corporate finance partner and global head of private equity Raymond McKeeve departed to join US firm Jones Day’s London office, while longstanding head of the commercial and technology group, Adam Rose, is to join Mishcon de Reya after 23 years at the firm.

Financially, the firm has reported a drop in revenues of 5% down to £233m, the worst financial performance of the top UK 25 firms. However, there is still no word on its profits, although profit per equity partner understood to be down by at least 35% to £430,000.

On Fichardt’s appointment, David Harkness, global head of Clifford Chance’s tax, pensions and employment practice, said: ‘Liesl’s extensive contentious tax and trial experience will be a valuable addition to our existing strong tax team both in London and globally. The current tax environment is becoming ever more complex for large organisations as they face greater amounts of legislation, including the General Anti Avoidance Rule, an enhanced disclosure regime and shifting public and government expectations.’

‘As a result we are seeing increasing demand from clients for advice and help on resolving their tax disputes and we expect this is an area that will continue to grow for the Firm’s market leading practice.’

Fichardt added: ‘CC’s leading reputation in tax and global reach will enable me to provide quality advice to clients in dealing with and resolving their tax disputes in the UK and internationally.’

‘Their offering combines unrivalled expertise in taxation and regulatory matters, extensive experience in dealing with tax authorities in resolving disputes and litigating in the courts and the ability to advise clients in a commercial and sensible manner on how best to deal with risk – within one global team.’