Legal Business

Locke Lord fined, Clydes ex-partner suspended, while Appleby hit by data breach

Locke Lord fined, Clydes ex-partner suspended, while Appleby hit by data breach

In a tough period for international firms at the hands of legal regulators, US firm Locke Lord received the largest-ever fine handed down by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in November.

The £500,000 penalty handed to Locke Lord came after one of its former UK lawyers engaged in ‘dubious financial arrangements’ with a client’s bank account. The lawyer in question, Jonathan Denton, left the firm in October 2015.

Legal Business

Clyde & Co, CMS and DAC Beachcroft pick up partners from an ailing Sedgwick

Clyde & Co, CMS and DAC Beachcroft pick up partners from an ailing Sedgwick

As US firm Sedgwick heads towards closure in the New Year, UK-based outfits Clyde & Co,  CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang and DAC Beachcroft have profited by picking up a number of partners.

DAC has hired a team comprising two partners and four associates from Sedgwick that will join its London office in January. This includes Mark Kendall, who led Sedgwick’s London international property and casualty team since 2010 and has also headed the firm’s Latin American group since 2014. Kendall’s practice has a strong focus on product recall and liability in sectors including food and pharmaceuticals. DAC confirmed that Kendall ‘shares a number of key clients’ with the firm.

Disputes partner Duncan Strachan will also be joining DAC in the New Year with a practice that centres on litigation defence in Latin American jurisdictions in addition to the UK and Europe. Alongside Strachan and Kendall, four associates and a non-fee earner will be making the switch to DAC.

Helen Faulkner, DAC’s head of insurance, told Legal Business: ‘While there aren’t many insurer clients that we don’t work with, Mark’s team gives us additional traction with some clients. We needed to build our bench strength in London. Mark and Duncan’s collaborative nature fits well with our culture.’

CMS has also tapped Sedgwick’s London office recruiting partner Tristan Hall. Specialising in financial claims and cyber risks, he will quit the US firm after seven years.

Office managing partner Edward Smerdon is now the only London partner whose destination remains unknown.

Meanwhile Clydes is looking to make a major US play, hiring two partners from Sedgwick to its San Francisco office, while discussions to bring in around 20 additional partners are ongoing.

Aside from San Francisco, Clydes is also in discussions with various other Sedgwick partners across the US. The firm will be seeking to build on the opening of its ninth US office in Los Angeles in July.

A spokesperson at the firm said: ‘We are sorry to hear the news of Sedgwick’s closure. We know many of its lawyers and hold them in high regard. In line with our own growth potential in the US, we are in advanced discussions with a number of its insurance partners, predominantly in California, about the possibility of them joining us. It would not be appropriate to comment further while discussions are ongoing.’

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Clyde & Co sets up in Los Angeles to focus on aviation and insurance clients with two-partner office

Clyde & Co sets up in Los Angeles to focus on aviation and insurance clients with two-partner office

Clyde & Co has launched its ninth US office, opening in Los Angeles with a two-partner team consisting of Julie Hawkinson (pictured) and Jim Koelzer.

The office will focus on providing insurance and aviation clients with insurance coverage and litigation defence services.

In a statement, Clydes partner and chair of the US board Bill Casey described Los Angeles as ‘a large and vibrant commercial center and hub for insurance litigation and aviation.’

Koelzer joins the firm from litigation specialist Robins Kaplan and will support the new Los Angeles office alongside current Clydes partner and San Francisco office co-founder Hawkinson. Both Koelzer and Hawkinson’s practices focus on representing clients in insurance disputes.

Hawkinson and Koelzer will lead a team comprising one counsel and an associate who also joins from Robins Kaplan. Clydes’ senior associate Natasha Mikha will also form part of the new team.

‘A permanent on-the-ground presence will help us deliver the best service to our clients and act as a platform to help recruit the finest legal and insurance talent in Southern California and beyond’, Casey said.

The Los Angeles opening continues a program of strong US expansion for Clydes in 2017, with the firm having launched in Chicago and Washington DC earlier this year.

A 10-partner team, which joined from Global 100 firm Troutman Sanders, were hired to open the new offices. Troutman’s Chicago office managing partner Eileen King Bower heads up Clydes’ new office in the city, while a six-partner insurance litigation team was brought in to staff the Washington DC office.

Clydes now counts almost 50 partners and 200 legal professionals in the US, with other offices in New Jersey, San Francisco, Miami and Atlanta.

Clydes also announced the launch of its first Mexican office in May this year, following a merger with four-partner local firm Garza Tello & Asociados.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Cavalier’: former Clyde & Co litigator struck off roll after string of misleading failures

‘Cavalier’: former Clyde & Co litigator struck off roll after string of misleading failures

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has struck off former Clyde & Co senior associate Rajpal Ahluwalia from the roll and ordered him to pay over £41,000 in costs after a series of failures starting in 2013, when he omitted to file a client’s defence.

The June judgment followed a 9-11 May hearing, at which Ahluwalia admitted failing to ensure that a client’s defence in 2013 was filed in good time, resulting in default judgment and £500,000 damages and costs.

Legal Business

Clifford Chance turns to Clydes as SRA launches probe into firm on Excalibur litigation

Clifford Chance turns to Clydes as SRA launches probe into firm on Excalibur litigation

Clifford Chance (CC) has instructed lawyers at Clyde & Co to represent it in an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), reportedly involving the firm’s part in the Excalibur professional negligence case, resulting from a claim in which an appeal judge criticised CC for an ‘acute’ conflict of interest.

In 2013, CC represented Excalibur Ventures in an unsuccessful $1.6bn Kurdistan oil deal damages claim against Gulf Keystone Petroleum and Texas Keystone.

London’s commercial court ruled against Excalibur in 2014, ordering Lemos, an ad hoc investor which helped Excalibur fund the case, to pay the defendants’ indemnity costs of £13.75m on top of their original funding advance.

During the original case,  CC partner Alex Panayides positively assessed the litigation, to which the funders looked for their lending evaluation. In December 2014, Panayides was sued for professional negligence by litigation funder Lemos, which was represented by Withers partner Christopher Coffin.

At the time, Lord Justice Clarke of the appeal court stated the claim had been ‘an elaborate and artificial construct… replete with defects, illogicalities and inherent improbabilities’. He said it was worth about $3.3m, not $1.6bn as claimed.

CC settled the professional negligence claim for an undisclosed sum in December 2015.

In November 2016, at the Court of Appeal hearing of the decision, it was alleged that Panayides overstated Excalibur’s prospects of success. The judges ordered all the original claim’s funders – Lemos’ company Psari, Platinum partners and Blackrobe – to pay indemnity costs up to the £20m total they had funded Excalibur.

As Panayides’ father was a chairman of the ship companies owned by the Lemos family, and his brother was a Lemos employee, the Court of Appeal also criticised CC, saying it had an ‘acute’ conflict of interest on the case.

The appeal judges said in particular that it was due to Panayides own agreement to conduct the case for Excalibur on a partial contingency that CC themselves had from the outset ‘an acute conflict of interest, the extent of which worsens as their own investment in the case increased over time.’

The SRA, CC and Clydes declined to comment.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Financials 2017: Clydes breaks £500m barrier with another year of double-digit growth

Financials 2017: Clydes breaks £500m barrier with another year of double-digit growth

Following another expansive year, led by a new global senior partner, Clyde & Co has again posted a double-digit rise in its global revenue, passing the half-billion-pound mark to reach £508.1m.

Turnover is up 14% on the £447.1m reported for 2015/16, although the firm said currency movements accounted for 5% of this year’s revenue growth.

Total profit grew by 9% to £127.6m, however profit per equity partner (PEP),  decreased by 2% to £650,000 down from the £665,000 reported last year. Partner numbers grew by 40, of which 31 were lateral hires – to nearly 400.

The latest revenue growth means that since 2011/12 – the year Clyde & Co merged with insurance rival Barlow Lyde & Gilbert – revenue at the firm has grown 77% from £287m.

This year’s results are the first to be overseen by senior partner Simon Konsta, who took up the lead job in November following James Burns’ decision in September to become head of Americas.

Global chief executive officer Peter Hasson told Legal Business that ‘outside the UK we grew by about 25%’, some of which related to new office openings, some of which was currency-related, he added. 

The firm has maintained sustained geographic expansion of recent years over the last 12 months, opening new offices in Düsseldorf, Chicago, Washington and Miami, with a new Mexico hub expected to launch this quarter pending regulatory approval.

‘We’re now back to a situation where our business is nearly split 50/50 between the UK and our international business, which is good for us,’ Hasson said.

‘We grew in all of our major regions, obviously not as much in the UK where conditions have been a bit tougher, and we’ve seen pretty balanced growth across sector areas.’

‘One of the factors that helps us deliver growth year after year is the fact that we have got a good balance geographically and we have a good balance in the practice areas that we’re offering,’ he added.

As part of its growth strategy, the firm merged with Miami-based litigation firm Thornton Davies Fein in May, adding five partners and 35 lawyers and staff. It also completed a tie-up with four-partner Mexican firm, Garza Tello & Asociados.

The firm hired a ten-partner team from Troutman Sanders to open its Chicago and Washington DC offices; recruited a two-partner team from Noerr to launch its Düsseldorf arm; and, most recently, acquired a two-partner marine team from Eversheds Sutherland in Newcastle.  

In terms of high-profile mandates, Clydes acted on two of the largest insurance deals in 2017 – the $1bn acquisition of AGR Capital Holdings, and Arch Capital Group’s $3.4bn purchase of AIG’s mortgage business.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

Read more: Sideways – A lateral move in leadership and big US ambitions for Clyde & Co 

 

 

Legal Business

‘Cavalier’: former Clyde & Co litigator struck off roll after string of misleading failures

‘Cavalier’: former Clyde & Co litigator struck off roll after string of misleading failures

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has struck off former Clyde & Co senior associate Rajpal Ahluwalia from the solicitor’s roll and ordered him to pay over £41,000 in costs after a series of failures starting in 2013 when he omitted to file a defence in a client’s case.

The SDT’s 8 June judgment followed a three-day hearing on 9-11 May, during which Ahluwalia admitted to failing to ensure that a defence to a claim in January 2013 was filed in good time on behalf of his client, an insurer. The omission resulted in a default judgment and £500,000 in damages and costs.

Ahluwalia, formerly an insurance litigator, also admitted that after the judgment was entered in May 2013, he failed to have the judgment set aside until March 2014. Ahluwalia also failed to notify his client of two offers of settlement made on 28 January 2013.

The former Clydes solicitor also signed a statement of truth in May 2013 on the defence, knowing that he had not seen the facts pleaded and had neither sought nor obtained the defendant’s authority to sign the defence.

Among the allegations, the SDT stated that Ahluwalia made statements in letters to a solicitor’s firm which he knew were untrue. In 2014, he signed a statement of truth on a witness statement in which he had neither sought nor obtained authority.

In 2013 and 2014, Ahluwalia had purported to send misleading emails to the insurer and to an insurance broker, in breach of SRA principles.

Clydes suspended Ahluwalia in November 2014, who resigned a week later.

‘The defendant had cavalierly allowed the matter to go from bad to worse and in doing so had displayed that he lacked integrity,’ the tribunal noted.

It was also claimed that Ahluwalia’s conduct in respect of certain allegations was dishonest. Dishonesty was not an essential ingredient of any of those allegations, however, leaving it open to the tribunal to find the allegations without making findings of dishonesty.

Ahluwalia had only been in practice for ‘three or four years’ when he started at Clydes. He worked for the firm from July 2010 to November 2014.

In October 2014, the case was transferred to another partner at Clydes, at which point Ahluwalia’s actions became known. Clydes sought legal advice on having the default judgment set aside.

The SDT found that Ahluwalia had also failed to contact his client due to sending an email to an incorrect address, ensuring the client was not updated on the progress of the case.

The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority brought the case before the SDT.

The Ahluwalia case is Clyde & Co’s second run-in with the SDT this year, after it was handed one of the largest fines ever to a law firm, in April. Clyde’s was fined £50,000 while three of its partners also received individual £10,000 fines for breaching accounting and money laundering rules.

Corporate partners Christopher Duffy, Simon Gamblin and projects partner Nick Purnell all received fines after admitting they used a client bank account as a banking facility, in violation of the SRA’s accounting rules.

Ahluwalia was represented RadcliffesLeBrasseur. He instructed 39 Essex Chambers’ Robert Lazarus. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) was represented by Penningtons Manches, who instructed Edward Levey of Fountain Court Chambers.

A Clydes spokesperson told Legal Business regard to the judgment that ‘as a senior member of the team, Rajpal was responsible for setting an example to others and, like everyone at the firm, for upholding our code of conduct and client service standards.’

The firm added that Ahluwalia ‘resigned from the firm following his suspension for the matter, which we identified and reported to the SRA.’

‘As the judgment makes clear, Rajpal had an otherwise unblemished record and this was an isolated incident, out of keeping with his previous character.’

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘In acquisitional mode’: Clyde & Co takes on five-lawyer marine team from Eversheds Sutherland

‘In acquisitional mode’: Clyde & Co takes on five-lawyer marine team from Eversheds Sutherland

Clyde & Co has picked up a five-lawyer marine team from newly-merged Eversheds Sutherland, including the firm’s head of shipping.

Eversheds Sutherland’s shipping head Stephen Mackin and shipping litigation partner Jessica Maitra have led the team to ever-expanding Clydes. The group will be based in the firm’s 23 lawyer Newcastle-Upon-Tyne office.

Mackin joined legacy Eversheds from Shell Tankers, where he was a navigating officer, in 1992. He was made up to partner in 2001.

Maitra has spent her career at Eversheds and joined the firm’s partnership in 2011.  

The team’s clients include Shell, North of England P&I Club and a number of Greek ship owners.

Clydes’ commercial litigation, shipping and trading disputes partner Andrew Preston told Legal Business that the firm had ‘known Steve for many years – we’ve identified him as the right person with the right practice who will add value of our business.’

‘The driver and the catalyst for all of this is that this is not a Greenfield site for us, we already have a Newcastle office following our merger with Simpson & Marwick a few years ago. It’s a tough marine market, but we’re doing well in a tough market and we are in acquisitional mode,’ Preston said.  

Mackin had ‘proved adept at leading, managing and nurturing the team’, Preston added.

Last month Clydes announced its third office opening this year, merging with four-partner local law firm Garza Tello & Asociados in Mexico. Clydes took on insurance, marine and energy firm Garza Tello’s 23 lawyers based in Mexico City, and its satellite presence in the Gulf of Mexico port city of Ciudad del Carmen.

This January, the firm continued its US expansion spree, launching in Chicago and Washington DC. The firm recruited a team of ten partners from US firm Troutman Sanders. The Washington DC office opened its doors with a six partner insurance litigation team, while four partners joined the firm’s Chicago offering, giving Clyde’s capacity across the general liability and professional liability, mass tort, environmental and product liability claims and insurance litigation markets.

Clydes also took on London based procurement partner David Hansom from Veale Wasbrough Vizards, this February.

However, the firm lost four casualty partners to DAC Beachcroft late last year.

At around the same time, it emerged the firm would downsize its aviation team by three senior associates in a bid to streamline its offering.

Madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Clyde & Co’s Tait voted Scottish region head replacing legacy Simpson & Marwick’s Keyden

Clyde & Co’s Tait voted Scottish region head replacing legacy Simpson & Marwick’s Keyden

Clyde & Co has chosen latent disease team head David Tait as its new Scotland managing partner, effective from today (1 June), replacing current managing partner and former Simpson & Marwick head Gordon Keyden.

Clyde & Co has chosen latent disease team head David Tait as its new Scotland managing partner, replacing current managing partner and former legacy Simpson & Marwick head Gordon Keyden.

Tait takes up his new managing partner role, which does not have a fixed term, today (1 June). He also sits on Clydes’ UK management board.

Tait is currently undertaking an ongoing review of the region’s post-merger executive committee, following the integration of 45-partner Simpson & Marwick and Clydes after the firms’ merger in 2015.

A legacy Simpson & Marwick partner who joined the firm in 1992, Tate was appointed unanimously by the Clydes’ six partner Scottish management board as Keyden’s replacement after the former head decided to step down from the role.

Tait told Legal Business that he will now lead Clydes’ Scottish offering onto the next stage, growing the newly consolidated business across the whole of the UK: ‘One of the reason behind the merger was that Simpson & Marwick was extremely relevant to clients in Scotland, Clydes was extremely relevant to clients in England.’

‘We formed the impression that clients were going to move on and would look to have single providers to cover the whole of the UK. Whilst at the time we didn’t need to merge at the time, it made sense for both firms.’

As part of Scottish business growth, a review of the Scottish executive committee was underway. ‘We need to have some sort of body in Scotland but we don’t necessarily need the full body we had prior to merger,’ Tait said.

‘We have Simon Konsta who is senior partner, the UK board which looks after the UK business, and below that it’s organised through business lines. Those key practice areas will drive the business forward under the guidance of the UK board.’

Clydes and Simpson Marwick have just completed their first combined financial year, with employment revenues increasing by 60% in the region, while revenues generated by the latent disease practice, headed by Tait, rose by 14%.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Clydes and Fieldfisher take spots on NHS litigation panel as BLM misses out

Clydes and Fieldfisher take spots on NHS litigation panel as BLM misses out

The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) has unveiled a roster of firms for its £544m legal advice panel, with Fieldfisher, Clyde & Co, DAC Beachcroft and Bevan Brittan among those making the cut. Meanwhile, Berrymans Lace Mawer has missed out.

Legal Business revealed in February that the NHSLA was reviewing its panel, with firms being invited to pitch for three sub-panels: clinical liability, non-clinical liability and regulatory, health and disciplinary. The process was overseen by the NHSLA’s director of claims Alan Hunter.

A group of firms have been appointed to offer advice for all three panels, these are Browne Jacobson, DAC Beachcroft, Kennedys and Weightmans.

Firms also on the clinical panel are Bevan Brittan, Capsticks, Hempsons, Hill Dickinson and Ward Hadaway. The non-clinical panel is made up of the four firms who are on all the panels and Clyde & Co, while Blake Morgan, Fieldfisher and Mills & Reeve have also been appointed to the regulatory panel.

The clinical liabilities panel is worth an estimated £480m over four years while the non-clinical liability panel and the RHD panels are worth £32m over the four years. Places available on the clinical and non-clinical panels have decreased since 2013, where there were 11 and six slots available respectively.

This latest panel follows the tender process launched by NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) earlier this month. The panel, which is worth £20m, is due to be finalised in August this year.

In January 2017, the Department of Health began a separate tendering process to form a £6m panel of law firms to pursue litigation against companies in the pharmaceutical industry. The decision followed the £84.2m fine handed down by the Competition and Markets Authority to US-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer after it drastically elevated the prices of anti-epilepsy drugs.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Read more: ‘A buyers’ market – The trends and traumas in adviser reviews’