Legal Business

Fieldfisher, Capsticks and Capital Law win spots on SRA’s new general advisory panel

Fieldfisher, Capsticks and Capital Law have all won roles on the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) inaugural general counsel (GC) panel, Legal Business can reveal.

This follows the decision by the SRA in May to name Capsticks as its sole provider for disciplinary and litigation work, opting to abandon a law firm panel approach. It is understood that tenders for both panels were run in parallel to each other.

The GC panel will last for a 3 year term initially, with the possibility to extend for a further two years.

Fieldfisher will advise on issues surrounding regulatory reform, policy development and governance, while Capsticks will advise on public law including judicial review, public policy, and information law requirements.

The GC team was formed in 2015, to provide legal advice to the SRA.  It advises on public law and regulatory issues, including judicial review, effective decision making and broader corporate support to the organisation.

The six firms that formed the previous litigation and investigations panels were Kingsley Napley, Simmons & Simmons, Capsticks, Devonshires, Russell-Cooke and Bevan Brittan.

At the time, the SRA’s chief executive Paul Philip said that moving to a sole provider model would ‘help to ensure consistency across all our legal work.’

Capsticks’ working relationship with the SRA dates back to 2009, and the firm was appointed to the SRA’s litigation panel after a successful retender in 2013. Disputes partner Daniel Purcell will lead for the firm on the new sole mandate.

Meanwhile earlier this month, Legal Business revealed that Fieldfisher was advising the SRA on the contractual provider which will eventually assist the SRA on delivering the new Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE) also known as ‘the super exam’.

A team from the firm, led by technology partner Sam Jardine and head of privacy Hazel Grant, tendered for the work over six months ago.

It is understood that the work is at an advanced stage, with the SRA expecting to tender the contract out imminently. The contract was due to be tendered by this summer.

Fieldfisher are the only firm working with the SRA on the draft contract for an independent organisation, which will take ultimate responsibility for the delivery of the SQE once it is finalised.


Legal Business

Capsticks wins out as SRA ditches panels for sole adviser mandate

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has named Capsticks as its sole provider for disciplinary and litigation work, opting to abandon a law firm panel approach.

Capsticks’ working relationship with the SRA dates back to 2009, and the firm was appointed to the SRA’s litigation panel after a successful retender in 2013. Disputes partner Daniel Purcell will lead for the firm on the new sole mandate.

SRA chief executive Paul Philip said: ‘Moving to a sole provider model will help to ensure consistency across all our legal work. I was pleased that we had such a strong field, with more than a dozen firms competing in what was a comprehensive and robust procurement process. We are looking forward to working with Capsticks.’

Purcell added: ‘This is an endorsement of the work we have carried out for the SRA over several years and, looking forward, of our innovative proposals to support the SRA’s change programme. We have developed a long-term partnership with the SRA over recent years, and we look forward to working even more closely and effectively with them in the future.’

The six firms that made up the previous litigation and investigations panels were Kingsley Napley, Simmons & Simmons, Capsticks, Devonshires, Russell-Cooke and Bevan Brittan.

In December, Bevan Brittan announced it would not retender for the panel, after reviewing the level of investment needed to service the regulatory body. The firm’s decision was also influenced by the departure of Iain Miller to Kingsley Napley. Miller was the key SRA relationship partner for Bevan Brittan.

Earlier this year, the Legal Services Board (LSB) commenced a probe into the SRA’s independence from the Law Society. The SRA has independence in terms of its governance operations, but is currently structurally linked to the Law Society through some of its governance arrangements and shared resources such as finance and HR systems.

Legal Business

Dismissed: Junior doctors lose High Court challenge to new contracts


Junior doctors have suffered a major blow after the High Court yesterday (28 September) rejected a judicial review challenging the legality of a controversial new contract, handing a win to health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Brought by lobby group Justice for Health against the Secretary of State (SoS)’s decision to approve the terms of a new model contract for junior doctors, the dispute centred on whether the contract was ‘unsafe and unsustainable’ and that Hunt did not have the power to impose it.

The new contract had been agreed by the bodies representing junior doctors and NHS employers in negotiations but later rejected by the British Medical Association’s (BMA’s) members in a referendum.

Shortly after the referendum result in early July, Hunt stated he would proceed with the introduction of the contract that had been agreed by parties.

Five junior doctors subsequently fought that decision in the High Court but yesterday Mr Justice Green dismissed the case on three separate grounds, ruling that the health secretary had acted within the scope of his statutory powers by approving the new contract for junior doctors, and had not taken any decision to impose the contract on NHS employers.

As well as complying with his duties of transparency and good administration, Hunt had not acted irrationally according to the court. The new contract was intended to serve a ‘multiplicity of purposes’, not limited to reducing the problem of increased mortality rates at weekends. Hunt was also entitled to conclude that the new contract would contribute towards reducing that problem, by increasing the availability of junior doctors at weekends. The evidential basis on which he relied in coming to this conclusion was both ‘cogent and significant.’

Justice for Health has taken the result as a victory however, and noted part of the judgment which read: Following Hunt’s statement in parliament, junior doctors were led to understand that he intended to impose the disputed contract, excluding daylight for further negotiation. The [secretary] failed to spell out to parliament that it remains open to employers to choose to engage in negotiations with employees’ representatives, the BMA. There is now a public record of SoS’s acceptance he is not exercising any power of compulsion.’

Justice for Health co-founder Dr Marie-Estella McVeigh said: ‘In last minute legal acrobatics, judicial proceedings have forced Hunt to clarify his legal position: he is not imposing the junior doctors’ contract and never was.’

Despite this the new terms and conditions are set to be implemented next week and there is no indication hospitals won’t proceed.

The five doctors’ case was crowdfunded by £300,000 from about 10,000 donors, many of being fellow junior doctors.

11KBW trio Clive Sheldon QC and Joseph Barrett and Ronnie Dennis acted for the SoS, instructed by the government legal department. 11KBW’s Jason Coppel QC and Christopher Knight also took instructions on the case and acted for NHSE, with Capsticks.

In a statement a department of health spokesperson said: ‘We welcome this clear decision by the judge that the secretary of state acted entirely lawfully. We must now move on from this dispute to the crucial job of making sure patients get the same high standards of urgent and emergency care every day of the week, which involves more than the junior doctors’ contract.’

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Capsticks hires BBC’s head of competition as Field Fisher, Kennedys and TLT bring in laterals


After a week that saw Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW), Kennedys and TLT all make significant hires into their City bases, one of more unusual hires of the past few days was leading healthcare firm Capsticks’ recruitment of the BBC legal department’s head of competition and regulatory team, Noel Watson-Doig.

Watson-Doig initially trained as a barrister at the European Court of Justice of the EU, as a pupil to Judge J. Cooke in competition, state aid, trade mark and employment law. He joined Reed Smith in 2006, Cameron McKenna in 2008 and the BBC in March 2009.

Watson-Doig has worked on a range of high profile matters including the European Commission’s clearance of Syniverse Technologies’ acquisition of Billing Services Group, the Competition Commission’s review of the broadcasting joint venture Project Kangaroo, and the Office of Fair Trading’s investigation in the UK grocery sector. He also advised HM Treasury on the competition protocol included in the Lisbon Treaty.

Capsticks commercial partner Sharon Lamb said: ‘We’re delighted to welcome someone of Noel’s calibre to our busy competition team, he will be a great asset in helping our clients to transform and improve their services whilst meeting the challenges around competition law.’

Elsewhere, FFW has bolstered its finance group with the hire of former Simmons & Simmons banking and finance partner, Philip Abbott, who joins the top 40 firm at the end of the month.

With a significant focus on funds finance, real estate finance and restructurings in the emerging markets – in particular Libya, Turkey and the Middle East – Abbott advises hedge funds, real estate funds, corporate borrowers and lenders, including the German banks, investment banks and the commercial banks.

Having trained with Allen & Overy, qualifying in 1996, Abbott has been with Simmons since 2003, spending two years as head of regional finance for the Middle East in Dubai  from 2008 to 2010.

FFW managing partner Michael Chissick said: ‘The addition of a senior partner such as Philip to our finance group is a great addition to an already strong team. We have made a number of lateral hires into the group over the past 12 months, and with Philip’s arrival we feel that we are in a better position than ever to service our clients’ needs.’

Also boosting its City practice, LB top 30 firm Kennedys has brought in the former insurance practice group head of CMS Cameron McKenna’s Hong Kong office, Michael Skrbic as a partner in its London office.

Prior to CMS, Skrbic was a partner in the London office of New York and Chicago specialist insurance law firm Boundas Skarzynski Walsh & Black, and was a corporate insurance attorney in Bermuda with Appleby.

He has also held senior in-house roles at ACE Group, Zurich Financial Services, Dresdner Kleinwort and Commerzbank.

Peter Cashin, Kennedys international head of corporate insurance based in Hong Kong, says: ‘Kennedys already has a substantial corporate insurance practice, based in Hong Kong, and this appointment strengthens the international presence of the firm in corporate insurance.

‘With financial sector assessments, assessments on the implementation of the insurance core principles, and the many other aspects of international insurance regulatory reform, we expect regulatory and transactional activity in the insurance sector to continue to grow and to be increasingly cross-border. Michael is one of the few lawyers with the experience in these areas across a number of jurisdictions most important to our clients.’

Also in London, TLT – which counts financial services as 40% of its client base – has recruited financial services and regulatory partner Emily Benson to join regulatory head Clare Hughes, advising on all aspects of FCA regulation.

Benson joins from financial services regulatory boutique firm Kinetic Partners, having previously worked in-house for Santander and spending five years in the Financial Services Authority’s enforcement division (now part of the Financial Conduct Authority).

Hughes said: ‘The majority of TLT’s financial services regulatory team, like Emily, have worked in the legal and compliance departments of financial services institutions or regulators. We understand the need for commercially based legal solutions in this technically exacting area. Emily’s arrival will boost this experience and help ensure that our clients are pre-warned and pre-armed in the ever complex and dynamic world of financial services regulation.’

Legal Business

Healthy competition: Capsticks takes five partners from DAC Beachcroft


It may be one of its signature practice areas but progressive insurance giant DAC Beachcroft last week (30 August) confirmed five Leeds-based partners will be leaving its market-leading health team for rival specialist Capsticks.

Although departure dates are yet to be finalised, Ian Cooper, Rachael Heenan, Robert McGough, Ron Simms and Claire Reynolds will all make the move to Capsticks next year.

DAC Beachcroft, which has advised the NHS since its inception 65 years ago, has the largest health practice of any UK law firm with 487-strong firmwide team comprising 50 partners and 200 fee earners operating across the independent and public sector, according to the firm.

Managing partner Paul Murray said regional senior partner in Newcastle and member of the national healthcare management team David Weatherburn and Leeds partner and head of the national health estates team Eve Gregory will take over the leadership and operational management of the northern health team as long-term structures are put in place.

‘We are intensely proud of our national health team, advising those at the forefront of health and social care in this country. Of course, that reputation makes our people the envy of the competition and, inevitably, some of them will depart for pastures new’, said Murray.

‘However, when people leave it provides opportunities for others to develop. We have some amazing talent in our health practice and our people will ensure we remain ‘business as usual’ for our clients over the coming months,’ Murray added.

This isn’t the first time that DAC Beachcroft has lost lawyers to insurance rivals in recent months – in April four insurance partners in Madrid left to join Clyde & Co’s new Spanish launch. However, in the same month DAC Beachcroft itself took a five-strong professional indemnity team from Morgan Cole in Wales. Meanwhile, in July Adrian Williams joined the firm’s corporate insurance team from reinsurance giant Swiss Re, where he was general counsel for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Both Capsticks and DAC Beachcroft won places on the Department of Health and the NHS Litigation Authority’s (NHSLA) new 14-strong cross-department legal roster when it was announced in June this year, with Capsticks appointed to two of the three sub-panels while DAC Beachcroft was chosen for all three.