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‘We want to be the biggest’: Hausfeld deepens European footprint with new Paris office

US litigation specialist Hausfeld has added to its considerable strength on the continent with the opening of a new Paris office.

The new outpost will be Hausfeld’s fifth in Europe and tenth worldwide. French antitrust partner Laurent Geelhand will lead the Paris office supported by a team of seven French-speaking lawyers who will divide their time between London and Paris.

Geelhand joined the claimant specialists in 2014 after previously acting as general counsel (GC) of Michelin for 16 years. While there, he turned the tyre manufacturer’s legal department into a profit centre by pursuing close to €100m in cartel damages since 2003.

Geelhand told Legal Business: ‘We are formalising what we have already been doing. This week I was in Paris four out of five days meeting clients. We have a huge French client base, advising some of the largest French companies who are doing antitrust claims. Competition litigation is still an immature segment in France and there are no real players. We want to be the biggest firm in that segment.’

Unlike the firm’s 2015 Berlin launch,  which was backed with €30m from litigation funder Burford, the Paris office will not be opened in conjunction with a litigation funder. But Geelhand insisted that Hausfeld remains close to all the funders ‘so we can give clients tailor-made solutions’, while noting that a firm backed by a litigation funder is new to the French market.

On whether the Paris office will need to be built out with lateral hires in the coming months, Geelhand said: ‘We can run our operations, we are fully staffed. Let’s see our workload and if we can improve our client base in the coming months and then we will think about adding to the team. The door is open but we are very happy with our team.’

Since the Berlin opening, Hausfeld has also partnered with Burford to offer a financing package for UK claimants to pursue follow-on damages claims against the participants of a truck manufacturing cartel. Announced last July, the package will fund the ongoing costs of litigation and protect claimants against any adverse cost exposure.

Before Paris, Hausfeld’s most recent office opening was Düsseldorf in June 2017.