Smoke, mirrors and grease – government signals review of controversial Bribery Act

Smoke, mirrors and grease – government signals review of controversial Bribery Act

It was the most controversial piece of legislation aimed at corporates to emerge in the last decade and, in a slow news week at least, the Bribery Act is still generating headlines amid signals that the government is flirting with watering down the anti-corruption law.

A report in the Financial Times indicates that a review of the act is likely to be announced in July following recommendations from the so-called ‘Star Chamber’ – a government working party hunting the Snark that is cutting red tape.

Deal Watch: Nabarro and Ashurst act on sale of LSE HQ as King & Spalding secures repeat European M&A for GSK

Deal Watch: Nabarro and Ashurst act on sale of LSE HQ as King & Spalding secures repeat European M&A for GSK

Ashurst and Nabarro‘s real estate teams have secured a role on the sale of another landmark London building, while King & Spalding has furthered its transatlantic ambitions by closing a sizeable European M&A pharma deal.

In the £225m sale of 10 Paternoster Square, home of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), Nabarro advised the seller, Tokyo-headquartered Mitsubishi Estate Company (MEC), led by rated real estate partner Deborah Parry.

Guest post: Quality in law – endlessly invoked yet never defined

Here’s a question that’s been bothering me of late – what, exactly, is a quality legal service? You’ll have noticed that this phrase has become so common that it no longer requires an adjective (unless it’s poor quality). Many seem to think that if you say often enough that you provide one, it must be true.

It has come to the fore with the debate over criminal legal aid. First there is the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA). This elides ‘quality’ with competence. ‘The aim of QASA,’ says the application to the Legal Services Board for approval of the scheme, ‘is to assess and assure the competence of all advocates conducting criminal advocacy in courts in England and Wales.’

Financials update: Taylor Wessing increases global revenues by 7%; UK up 4%

Taylor Wessing has posted modest turnover growth after an expansive 2012, announcing its global revenue for the financial year 2012/13 has increased by 7% from £212m in 2011/12 to £228m, while UK revenue grew by 4% to £104.5m.

Tim Eyles, who was re-elected as UK managing partner of the firm in May last year, said he was ‘pleased to have achieved continued revenue growth’ despite tough market conditions.

Deal Watch: Magic Circle advises on headline debt deals as re-financing work keep advisers busy

Deal Watch: Magic Circle advises on headline debt deals as re-financing work keep advisers busy

In a dire market for new money M&A, debt restructuring continues to be a lifeline for major advisers with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Kirkland & Ellis securing major mandates in recent days.

The standout mandate of May was the €4.2bn debt restructuring of German real estate group IVG Immobilien, which has generated lead roles for Freshfields and Linklaters alongside US duo Kirkland and Kaye Scholer.

Forward thinking: Ashurst appoints independent non-execs to its board

Forward thinking: Ashurst appoints independent non-execs to its board

Ashurst has taken the unusual step of appointing two high level non-executive directors to its board as the firm beds down its merger with Australia’s Blake Dawson and seeks experienced counsel on its strategic direction and corporate governance.

Former director general of The Takeover Panel Robert Gillespie will join the board of Ashurst with immediate effect and David Turner, chairman of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), will join the board of Ashurst Australia (formerly Blake Dawson) on 1 June 2013.

Guest post: The real ‘scumbag criminal’ is still free – a matter at democracy’s heart

‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ – Martin Luther King – Letter from a Birmingham Jail – 16 April 1963.

Having already successfully stripped legal aid from so many areas of civil work, the government is now bearing down on criminal legal aid. ‘Price Competitive Tendering’ (or PCT) is one of the latest ‘in phrases’ but what does it amount to?

Stripped to its essentials, it means that anyone charged with an offence and who requires legal aid – (that is, most people) – will be allocated a defence lawyer working for one of a small number of large ‘defence factory’ commercial providers.

Norton Rose Fulbright announces global practice heads as Withers chair moves to New York

Norton Rose Fulbright announces global practice heads as Withers chair moves to New York

Both Norton Rose and Withers have made changes to their senior management, with one entering a seven-day countdown to its full merger with Fulbright & Jaworski as the other regroups after talks with Speechly Bircham fell through last week.

Norton Rose Fulbright today announced its global practice heads for the firm’s three largest practice areas; corporate, banking and finance.

Revolving Doors: King & Spalding, Olswang and Sullivan & Cromwell in key partner hires

Revolving Doors: King & Spalding, Olswang and Sullivan & Cromwell in key partner hires

The past week saw a clutch of firms including Kennedys, Olswang, King & Spalding and Sullivan & Cromwell make key partner hires as US firms’ assault on the City continues apace.

King & Spalding launched its London trade practice on 20 May 2013 with the hire of Bird & Bird head of international trade and customs for Brussels and London, Iain MacVay, as the firm continues to expand its global trade offering.

Bercow guilty of libel over ‘innocent face’ tweet

Bercow guilty of libel over ‘innocent face’ tweet

Users of social media took careful note today as the High Court ruled that a tweet published by Sally Bercow about Tory peer Lord McAlpine was libellous.

In November the former Conservative Party treasurer was wrongly linked by BBC Newsnight to a child sex abuse case at Bryn Estyn children’s home in the 1970s and 80s, following which the wife of Commons Speaker John Bercow wrote: ‘Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *Innocent face*’.