Legal Business

DAC Beachcroft signs up to new Legalign alliance to provide global client reach

DAC Beachcroft signs up to new Legalign alliance to provide global client reach

DAC Beachcroft has signed up to a collaborative new insurance alliance, Legalign, along with three others: German firm BLD Bach Langheid Dallmayr, US firm Wilson Elser and Australian outfit Wotton + Kearney.

According to DAC, the model is designed to deliver legal services seamlessly across jurisdictions in three primary areas: insurance/reinsurance coverage, insurance/reinsurance defence and insurance regulatory and compliance. The alliance will comprise more than 2,000 lawyers across the four firms.

DAC managing partner David Pollitt (pictured) said it gives the firm an even bigger global footprint.

He added: ‘The synergies between our respective clients, our service capabilities and our cultures are genuinely noteworthy. That makes the opportunity to join forces an exciting one both for us and for our clients, many of which will feel the benefit of this comprehensive new global offering with almost immediate effect. We can’t wait to continue to build on what we have already achieved.’

DAC filed its LLP’s for 2015/16 last week, which showed turnover increased by 1.5% to £201.5m from £198.5m, while profit before tax increased 9.5% from £32.3m to £35.3m. Meanwhile, as the average number of employees increased from 2,027 to 2,093, average statutory profit before tax per member increased from £296,000 to £361,000.

Total net debt at year-end was reduced by 18% from £24.6m in 2015 to £20m in 2016 while growth in operating profit increased 10.2% from £33.2m to £36.6m.

In December DAC strengthened its presence in Latin America with insurance associations with Torres Carpio Portocarrero & Richter (TCPR) and BLP in Peru and Central America.

The associations are in addition to DAC’s existing presence in Latin America, where the firm has offices in Mexico, Colombia and Chile, as well as an alliance in Brazil and a hub in Miami. The arrangement will see all three firms work together to share best practice and meet mutual clients’ key business needs in Latin America.

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

DAC strengthens presence in LatAm with two new insurance associations

DAC strengthens presence in LatAm with two new insurance associations

DAC Beachcroft has strengthed its presence in Latin America with new insurance associations in Peru and Central America.

The associations are with Torres Carpio Portocarrero & Richter (TCPR) and BLP, providing clients with coverage in Peru (TCPR) and Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras (BLP).

The associations are in addition to DAC’s existing presence in Latin America, where the firm has offices in Mexico, Colombia and Chile, as well as an alliance in Brazil and a hub in Miami. The arrangement will see all three firms work together to share best practice and meet mutual clients’ key business needs in Latin America.

DAC’s managing partner David Pollitt said the associations marked a further important step in the firm’s expansion plans.

DAC’s Latin American regional head, Anthony Menzies, added: ‘We know Latin America is a hugely important market and one to which we are committed as part of our international growth strategy. It is undoubtedly a region where our clients want us to be. These associations now give us a presence in no fewer than ten Latin American jurisdictions, either through our own or associate offices.’

Meanwhile, DAC has seen a weaker financial performance for the six months ending 31 October. The firm’s revenue for the period stood at £102m, up 1% on the same period in 2015/16.

The firm saw a steady financial performance for 2015/16, reporting a turnover increase of 2% to £201.6m while profit was up 9% to £35m.

Pollitt (pictured) said: ‘I am pleased with this good result at the half-year stage, which bears testament to the continuing hard work of all our people. We have managed to trade through some difficult market conditions in the first six months of this financial year, hitting the tough targets we set ourselves at the beginning of the year.’

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

H1 2016/17: Watson Farley achieves 14% growth as DAC endures a slower first half

H1 2016/17: Watson Farley achieves 14% growth as DAC endures a slower first half

Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) has reported strong first half results for the 2016/17 financial year as DAC Beachcroft saw its turnover grow just over 1%.

WFW recorded a strong first half to the year with its revenue growing 14% for the first six months of the financial year. H1 turnover grew from £59.5m to £67.6m. The LB100 firm’s full financial results for 2015/16 saw turnover increase 5%, hitting £131.6m.

The firm’s co-managing partner Chris Lowe (pictured) said: ‘This is a very encouraging financial result for the firm, building on the solid 5% revenue increase achieved in the 2015/16 financial year. The past six months have seen significant market volatility due to events such as the Brexit vote, but this is something WFW is well placed to manage.’

Last year, the firm invested heavily in lateral hiring by adding 17 new partners to its offices, while last month WFW also strengthened its Dubai office, adding aviation finance partner Oliver Tebbit from Clyde & Co.

Meanwhile, DAC has seen a weaker financial performance for the six months ending 31 October. The firm’s revenue for the period stood at £102m, up 1% on the same period in 2015/16.

The firm saw a steady financial performance for 2015/16, reporting a turnover increase of 2% to £201.6m while profit was up 9% to £35m.

DAC managing partner David Pollitt said: ‘I am pleased with this good result at the half-year stage, which bears testament to the continuing hard work of all our people. We have managed to trade through some difficult market conditions in the first six months of this financial year, hitting the tough targets we set ourselves at the beginning of the year.’

matthew.field@legalease.co.uk

 

Legal Business

DAC Beachcroft takes on Clyde & Co team including four partners

DAC Beachcroft takes on Clyde & Co team including four partners

DAC Beachcroft will pick up a team from its insurance competitor Clyde & Co with four partners making the move to the firm.

Casualty partners David Knapp (pictured), Danielle Singer, John Goodman and Nigel Adams will join DAC with up to 30 fee earners.

DAC will gain ‘strong and consistent performers’ in Knapp and Singer, according to the Legal 500, with Knapp and Adams bringing their strong ties to insurance group Zurich.

Knapp specialises in the defence of complex personal injury claims brought against private and public sector organisations while Goodman advises on general insurance work.

Singer will bring her experience advising on the defence of catastrophic and complex injury claims. Adams, who joined Clyde & Co from Weightmans in 2010, specialises in the resolution of catastrophic and complex injury claims.

A spokesperson at DAC said the firm and its claims solutions group would ‘continue to seek investments that help them sustain and build on the service they provide to their clients’.

In May it emerged DAC had signed a three year ‘best friends’ agreement with Belfast’s McKinty and Wright in a bid to expand its network. From June DAC began referring shared clients and combined marketing efforts with the Northern Ireland firm, a top-ranked specialist insurance defendant practice with seven partners and 19 lawyers in total.

DAC also became one of a few firms to take advantage of the liberalisation of the Malaysian market as it applied to the country’s Bar council for a joint venture licence with Kuala Lumpur-based association firm Gan Partnership, in April.

Meanwhile Clyde & Co has continued with its international expansion this year opening offices in Dusseldorf and Miami, where DAC also opened an office late last year.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Clydes, DAC and Kennedys named as AXA finalises UK claims roster

Clydes, DAC and Kennedys named as AXA finalises UK claims roster

The UK legal arm of French Insurer AXA has finalised its UK claims roster, with Clyde & Co, DAC Beachcroft, Horwich Farrelly, Kennedys, Keoghs and Taylor Rose all winning spots on the panel.

Commenting on the review, which was held in-house, a spokesperson for AXA said: ‘We are delighted to have completed the review of our claims legal panel and look forward to working with our new roster in the future. Claims are at the very heart of our business and having the right legal representation in this area is fundamental to our continued success.’ The panel will remain in place for two to three years.

Last year it emerged that AXA was set to look at its relationships with Magic Circle and international firms and how they can work more effectively for the company. It followed a review of the UK specific ‘business-as-usual’ panel, which was cut from seven to two firms and compromises Pinsent Masons and DAC Beachcroft.

Headed up by longstanding group general counsel (GC) Edward Davis (pictured), the objective was to explore new efficiencies with the premium fee firms it currently works with – including Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Hogan Lovells and Norton Rose Fulbright was sparked after the 35-lawyer AXA UK legal team carried out a substantive review during 2014.

Led by Davis and department heads, chief counsel AXA healthcare Sam Patel, chief counsel AXA insurance Mark Gardner, and general counsel wealth Emily Coupland, the team achieved a 10% reduction in external legal spend and, internally, a 20% reduction in the number of full time equivalent staff.

An ongoing feat, AXA UK’s legal function has reduced its external legal spend by 35% annually since 2011 with total legal spend currently less than £10m and around 70% of that spent in-house.

Recent panel reviews include Lloyds Banking Group, which finalised its UK legal roster in a review which saw DLA Piper and Norton Rose Fulbright losing their spots as the bank’s core panel shrunk from ten to eight firms.

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: UK hires for Ince and DAC as disputes head Blanch leaves Weil

Revolving doors: UK hires for Ince and DAC as disputes head Blanch leaves Weil

High-profile City arbitrator Juliet Blanch is set to leave Weil, Gotshal & Manges, while UK hires this week have come for Ince & Co and DAC Beachcroft, and Taylor Wessing strengthened its European tax offering with a double hire.

A major exit this week came for US firm Weil as its London head of international dispute resolution Juliet Blanch left the firm to become an independent arbitrator. Blanch had spent six years at the firm, joining in 2010 from McDermott Will & Emery where she also was head of international disputes resolution. Prior to this, she was a partner at legacy Norton Rose until 2005, the firm she joined as a trainee.

Also in the City, Ince has hired Rebecca Thornley-Gibson to its London office as head of employment. Before joining the national firm, Thornley-Gibson spent more than 26 years partner at ASB Law, where she was a partner and head of employment. She has advised on employment and travel issues and has a client base including low cost airlines, tour operators, cruise firms and travel technology companies.

Thornley-Gibson is cited as a leading individual for travel law in the Legal 500. Her team’s clients have included easyJet, The Travel Network Group and Secret Escapes. Ince global head of corporate Stephen Jarvis said: ‘Having a strong employment practice is key as we continue to strengthen our transactional offering to clients. Rebecca is a highly regarded employment lawyer so we are delighted to welcome her to the firm.’

In Bristol, DAC Beachcroft recruited Joanne Owers into the firm’s Bristol office earlier this month from City practice Fox Williams. Owers joins from the 30 partner firm having previously worked at as partner at legacy Charles Russell and as an associate at Baker & McKenzie.

And in Europe, Taylor Wessing is expanding its international tax practice with the hire of two partners, bringing in Michaela Petritz-Klar as CEE head of tax and international tax partner Michael Jaffe. Petritz-Klar joins the firm’s Vienna office from Schönherr, where she was head of tax. Jaffe joins the firm from PwC Société d’Avocats, where he was managing partner for France.

matthew.field@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Bowing to pressure: DAC Beachcroft amends contract terms with preferred barristers

Bowing to pressure: DAC Beachcroft amends contract terms with preferred barristers

After pressure from lobby groups at the commercial Bar, DAC Beachcroft has amended its contractual arrangements with its preferred sets of chambers to reinstate a key contract clause that gives barristers insurance cover.

The clause in question falls under the Commercial Bar (Combar)/City of London Law Society rules, which detail the standard terms of work under which members of chambers will accept instructions. In 2013, the firm moved to delete clause 12.4 from its working contracts with chambers, which had the effect of removing the insurance liability cap for barristers.

Three years later the issue has now come to a head. An email seen by Legal Business was circulated by the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC) chair Nicholas Hill to members on Monday (11 July). The email said: ‘it has been drawn to our attention by a number of chambers that DAC has issued a new version of their terms which is causing concern.’

The firm’s terms were described as ‘unattractive for many reasons,’ in particular, the fact the liability clause was deleted. That clause said liability is limited to the sum stated in an agreement. However if no such sum is stated, the limit of that liability is £100,000, the highest limit of cover provided to barristers by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund.

The IBC email warned that the removal of limitation of liability meant that ‘any barrister entering into the DAC terms will have no insurance cover in relation to any claim arising solely under contract. Any barrister considering entering into the terms should do so with great care.’

The email added that Bar Mutual had this week raised the matter with a lawyer at DAC ‘so that [the firm] should be aware of the issues to which their terms give rise.’

The IBC has since had contact via email yesterday morning (13 July) from DAC which said: ‘In response to our proposed amendments, it has been brought to our attention that the deletion of the liability provision in clause 12.4 cannot be agreed owing to Bar indemnity insurance restrictions. Although the deletion of clause 12.4 was agreed to by a number of chambers in 2013 without issue, we have discussed the matter internally and agreed to reinstate clause 12.4.’

A spokesperson for DAC added: ‘This is purely a commercial negotiation about risk and the clause in question is the same as that contained in the previous terms to which chambers agreed in 2013. The firm has already expressed to those who have asked directly its willingness and readiness to amend this clause.’

Hills said: ‘There have been firms in previous years who take Combar terms and insert clauses of their own. It’s been an issue since their inception in 2013. It is up to law firms to alert sets to what they have done and its entirely up to the chambers as to whether they accept it or not.’

‘If a law firm is your largest work provider, you can find yourself in an unenviable position where you’re almost obliged to take the work under their terms or lose it entirely… it’s very unattractive.’

Stephenson Harwood disputes partner Tony Woodcock, not referencing DAC but speaking on the issue of deleted liability clauses, said: ‘I have never come across that before. We are here absolutely on top of what the rules say, and are square with counsel and chambers we deal with. I can only judge from our experience – it’s clear we have our own insurance cover. With firms and barristers, in my experience with changes there’s lots of consultation…but usually there’s a compromise, and it gets thrashed out.’

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Financials 2015/16: DAC Beachcroft posts 9% profit boost despite subdued turnover

Financials 2015/16: DAC Beachcroft posts 9% profit boost despite subdued turnover

As the firm continues gradual growth, DAC Beachcroft increased turnover to £202m, a 2% increase on last year’s £200m. Profit before tax was up £3m to £35m, a 9% rise on last year’s figures, with profit before tax per member rising 21% to £358,000.

DAC Beachcroft managing partner David Pollitt told Legal Business growth had come from the firm’s corporate and real estate divisions, and progress had been made internationally.

At the half-year point in December the firm had unveiled a 2% rise in 2015/16 revenues to £100.8m, while overall net debt fell by £4.7m (17%) year-on-year.

Pollitt (pictured) said the firm will continue to strengthen its core practice areas and will take a more meticulous approach the transactions it does.

He said: ‘We can do more work on improving the profit and the PEP of our business and that’s going to involve us continuing to take a further look at the work that we do. The reason that our revenue is flat is that we’ve seen growth in some areas and other areas we’ve turned back the dial a little bit. We’re making sure we’re moving the value of our business upwards. I hope our results show people in the market place that we are getting stronger.’

The firm saw a shake-up of its management last year with the first new executive team since the merger of Davies Arnold Cooper and Beachcroft in October 2011.

The firm promoted 12 to partnership this year, with two in London. The promotions were made across claims solutions, global insurance, corporate and commercial and clinical risk. The firm made two fewer promotions this year than last when it made up 15 partners.

Growth has been modest across most firms that have posted financial results so far this year, with Clyde & Co and Osborne Clarke posting exceptional revenue results. Turnover at Clyde & Co jumped 13% to £447.3m on last year’s £395m while profit per equity partner (PEP) climbed to £665,000. At Osborne Clarke, revenues were up by 23% from €191.6m to €236.3m.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

 

 

Legal Business

‘Last piece of the UK and Ireland jigsaw’: DAC Beachcroft forms association with Belfast’s McKinty and Wright

‘Last piece of the UK and Ireland jigsaw’: DAC Beachcroft forms association with Belfast’s McKinty and Wright

Top-25 firm DAC Beachcroft has signed a three year ‘best friends’ agreement with Belfast’s McKinty and Wright in a bid to expand its network.

From 1 June DAC will refer shared clients and combine marketing efforts with the Northern Ireland firm, a top-ranked specialist insurance defendant practice with seven partners and 19 lawyers in total.

Lester Doake, senior partner at McKinty and Wright, said: ‘This agreement with an international law firm of the calibre of DAC will allow us to apply our skills to a wider customer base to the mutual benefit of both firms. We are eagerly looking forward to working together.’

DAC managing partner David Pollitt told Legal Business: ‘It’s the last piece of the UK and Ireland jigsaw for us and from an insurance perspective being able to look after our clients for all parts of the UK and Ireland is important. We’ve had connections with McKinty the past and it now felt right to formalise the arrangement.’

In December DAC reported a 2% rise in its first-half revenues for 2015/16 to £100.8m, while overall net debt fell by £4.7m (17%) year-on-year. The firm said at the time that revenue ‘stood above budget’ and the results were ‘characterised by ongoing margin improvement and continued progress in the management of working capital, resulting in a strong cash outcome.’

In the past 12 months, the firm has broadened its international reach, opening an office in Miami to strengthen its Latin American offering by connecting local insurance clients to the rest of its network. It also entered the alternative business structure market, gaining a licence for its claims solutions business in England and Wales, a move that will allow the firm to bring in outside investment and make non-lawyer partners in the business.

victoria.young@legalease.co.uk

 

Legal Business

DAC Beachcroft deepens relationship in Malaysia with application for joint venture

DAC Beachcroft deepens relationship in Malaysia with application for joint venture

Last month DAC Beachcroft became one of a few firms to take advantage of the liberalisation of the Malaysian market as it applied to the country’s Bar council for a joint venture (JV) licence with Kuala Lumpur-based association firm Gan Partnership.

According to Gan Khong Aik, one of four partners at Gan Partnership, the two firms have been in a formal association for the last four or five years. The Malaysian practice, which specialises in corporate commercial, dispute resolution and intellectual property is hoping to expand its offering in reinsurance and insurance through formalising its relationship further with DAC.