Legal Business

Freshfields and Slaughters drafted as Government reveals details of Covid-19 business support package

Freshfields and Slaughters drafted as Government reveals details of Covid-19 business support package

The UK Treasury and Bank of England (BoE) have called in their go-to counsel Slaughter and May and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer as they iron out details of the multibillion-pound support scheme to underwrite British business through the coronavirus crisis.

The UK Government announced last week the Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility to help companies with cash flow as the rapid spread of the virus has forced governments to put a third of the world’s population in shutdown.

Under the scheme, the BoE will buy short-term bonds to ensure businesses making a material contribution to the UK economy can continue to pay staff and suppliers, upon the condition that they demonstrate they were financially-healthy before the crisis. The facility will operate for an initial period of 12 months.

Slaughters’ finance partners Matthew Tobin, Oliver Storey and Guy O’Keefe are advising the Treasury alongside corporate partner Nilufer von Bismarck (pictured) and state aid partner Isabel Taylor. Slaughters’ core role to Whitehall echoes its high-profile mandate during the financial crisis when it advised the Treasury on a wide-ranging bank bailout.

A Freshfields team led by financial services chief Michael Raffan is acting for the BoE, the Magic Circle firm’s most celebrated client.

The scheme is one of several unprecedented economic measures disclosed by the Government in response to the unfolding crisis. UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Friday (20 March) a coronavirus job retention scheme to offer all employers access to a grant covering up to 80% of the average wage to prevent widespread layoffs.

Businesses will not be expected to pay VAT for a quarter until the end of June and will not be liable for VAT deferred during that period until the end of the 2020/21 financial year.

Speaking to Legal Business about the measures, Hogan Lovells head of public law and policy Charles Brasted said they were ‘directly feeding into what our clients are thinking about in terms of how they can maximise what they retain over the next few months’.

‘It’s almost inevitably not the end of it, it’s not a one-off package,’ he added, saying that new measures will be likely to address the self-employed: ‘A lot of the measures at the moment work easily if you are on pay as you earn but not so easily if you are self-employed, and the government is looking closely about what it can do [on that front].’

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Click here for all our latest coverage on the on-going coronavirus crisis

Legal Business

More gloom for Freshfields as another disputes partner exits after internal investigation

More gloom for Freshfields as another disputes partner exits after internal investigation

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has suffered yet another setback after disputes partner Tom Snelling was dismissed from the partnership following an internal investigation.

The move will be an unwelcome addition to the City giant’s woes as the legal industry and the world at large grapples with unparalleled reversals wrought by the ever-escalating coronavirus pandemic.

A Freshfields spokesperson would not give full details of Snelling’s departure, only commenting: ‘We can confirm that following the conclusion of an internal investigation, it has been agreed with Tom Snelling that it’s in the interests of both him and the firm that he leave the partnership. His last day was 19 March (Thursday).’

Snelling, who made partner in 2010, is the second disputes partner to be ousted from Freshfields in the space of three months after Nicholas Williams, a partner since 2017, left the firm on 11 December after the firm launched an internal probe into personal misconduct allegations.

That dismissal came in the same week the Freshfields partnership voted in new enforcement protocols that meant partners who receive a final warning for personal behaviour issues could face an automatic fine equal to 20% of their profit share for 12 months.

The reforms were aimed at curbing harassment of staff and came in the wake of the public embarrassment Freshfields faced in October when the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) fined former partner Ryan Beckwith £35,000 and ordered him to pay £200,000 in legal costs following a high-profile hearing concerning sexual activity with a junior lawyer in his team.

While the Solicitors Regulation Authority decided against appealing a decision many deemed lenient, Beckwith in February filed a High Court appeal against the SDT’s finding against him.

A firm-wide programme to improve culture and behaviour has also resulted in a set of principles – ‘Show respect, be there for one another, be positive role models, and be open with one another’ – as a means of tackling these problems.

While this latest exit could be seen as an affirmative move in clamping down on unacceptable working practices, it also shines an unfortunate light on a firm now with a succession of partner terminations for misconduct.

Nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

 

 

Legal Business

‘Smarts and experience’: Freshfields adds more NY firepower with Latham tax hire

‘Smarts and experience’: Freshfields adds more NY firepower with Latham tax hire

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has built on the momentum of its recent Manhattan hiring spree with the addition of tax partner Lori Goodman from Latham & Watkins.

The move is another boon for the City giant’s lofty US aspirations after the much vaunted acquisition last October of a four-partner Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton team, led by prominent M&A veteran Ethan Klingsberg.

Goodman, whose practice focuses on compensation and benefits aspects of M&A, private equity, disclosure, and corporate governance, will be joining Freshfields’ US executive compensation and employee benefits practice. She was made up to partner in 2015.

She has advised public company clients such as Spotify Technology and The Container Store Group and financial sponsor clients including Leonard Green & Partners, Odyssey Investment Partners and Energy Capital Partners. She also advised on the 2019 Peloton IPO.

Matthew Herman, Freshfields US managing partner, said Goodman’s hire would build on the firm’s increasing M&A, activism defense, shareholder litigation and corporate governance work since its recent hires: ‘Adding Lori to the equation is critical to delivering to our clients the sophisticated legal skill and judgment they demand.’

Ethan Klingsberg, Freshfields US head of M&A, added: ‘I’m impressed by Lori’s smarts and experience. I’m further thrilled that she provides innovative structuring advice on handling of awards and incentive plans in the full spectrum of M&A transactions, whether it’s a public company merger, a takeover of a start-up, or a financial sponsor transaction.’

The hire of Goodman also sees something of a revolving door between Freshfields and Latham, the Magic Circle firm having sustained a significant blow in the City last week after influential rising star Sam Newhouse quit for the US powerhouse. It was viewed as Latham’s most significant move into the UK public company M&A space since the hire of Allen & Overy’s well-liked M&A partner Ed Barnett in 2017.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Beckwith takes SDT misconduct decision to High Court appeal

Beckwith takes SDT misconduct decision to High Court appeal

Former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Ryan Beckwith has filed a High Court appeal against the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal’s (SDT) finding against him in a case of sexual misconduct.

The appeal follows last October’s high-profile judgment that Beckwith knew or ought to have known that the junior member of staff he had sexual activity with was intoxicated and her judgement impaired and that he knew or ought to have known that his conduct was inappropriate

Nick Brett, Beckwith’s solicitor at Brett Wilson, confirmed the appeal in a statement: ‘On Wednesday 19 February 2020, Mr Beckwith filed grounds to appeal against the decision of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal dated 30 January 2020 and it would not be appropriate to comment further pending the hearing in the High Court which will be listed in due course.’

Beckwith’s appeal comes after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which brought the case to the Tribunal for prosecution in June 2018, earlier this week said it would not be appealing the sanctions handed down of a £35,000 fine and an order to pay legal costs of £200,000.

Earlier this month, the SDT released its written judgement explaining that the controversial decision to fine instead of ban Beckwith was because his misconduct was ‘a lapse in his judgement’ and ‘unlikely to be repeated’.

In the judgement, the SDT said that Beckwith’s misconduct did not pose a future risk to the public and that: ‘There had been no clients involved and there was no suggestion that the work of the respondent was anything other than highly competent. Nor did it consider that the respondent posed a future risk to the reputation of the profession,’ the judgment added.

The sanctions were made in light of the tribunal’s decision that ‘this was a one-off incident where there was no suggestion that he [Beckwith] had coerced or manipulated Person A [the junior lawyer]. It was not the applicant’s case that the respondent had deliberately plied Person A with drink with a view to getting her into such an intoxicated state that she would then engage in sexual activity.’

‘Nor was it the case that he had used his position of seniority and authority to engineer the sexual encounter,’ the decision added.

The tribunal found that, although Beckwith had ‘engaged in inappropriate conduct in circumstances where his judgement had been affected by the amount of alcohol he had consumed,’ it did not find that the circumstances of the case were such that a restriction order was necessary in order to protect the public.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Freshfields loses key rising star Newhouse as Latham renews City M&A push

Freshfields loses key rising star Newhouse as Latham renews City M&A push

In the latest blow to the UK Magic Circle, Latham & Watkins has hired one of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s brightest young partners, Sam Newhouse.

The US giant confirmed today (25 February) its most significant move in the UK public company M&A space since the hire of Allen & Overy’s well-liked M&A partner Ed Barnett in 2017.

One of the Magic Circle firm’s M&A partners hitting their early-40s prime, Newhouse was both popular and much tipped for his work with energy clients including Total and Essar.

In October last year, Newhouse led a Freshfields team advising Neptune Energy on its acquisition of Edison E&P’s UK and Norwegian producing, development and exploration assets from Energean Oil & Gas. The team also advised Neptune Energy on its acquisition of ENGIE E&P in February 2018.

A Freshfields lifer, he joined the City firm in 2003 as a trainee, qualified in 2005 and made partner in 2013.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

#MeToo: SRA decides against Freshfields’ Beckwith misconduct sanctions appeal

#MeToo: SRA decides against Freshfields’ Beckwith misconduct sanctions appeal

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has decided not to appeal the sanctions handed to former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer restructuring partner Ryan Beckwith by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) for misconduct last October.

The decision brings to a close a long-running and uncomfortable saga for the Magic Circle firm after Beckwith’s sexual activity with a junior member of his team was found to be in breach of principles two and six of the solicitors’ code of conduct, requiring solicitors to ‘act with integrity’ and ‘behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services’.

The tribunal handed Beckwith a £35,000 fine and ordered him to pay legal costs of £200,000 in connection with the incident that took place in 2016 after copious alcohol consumption at an after-work drinks.

The financial penalty was not the suspension some were expecting, although the loss of Beckwith’s job (he resigned from Freshfields the morning of the ruling) and question marks over his employability in the City are arguably the real penalties. Beckwith had been on indefinite leave from Freshfields since December 2017.

An SRA spokesperson said the regulator was committed to tackling the issue of sexual harassment: ‘We refer allegations of serious misconduct to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and it is they who reach findings and decide on sanctions. We are able to appeal their decisions if specific legal grounds are met. Following a review of the judgement in this case and having taken legal advice, we have decided not to appeal.’

Earlier this month, The SDT published its judgement explaining the reasons behind the sanctions, entitling the regulator to appeal the decision within 21 days. In the ruling, the SDT said that Beckwith’s misconduct ‘was caused by a lapse in his judgement that was highly unlikely to be repeated’ and did not find he posed a future risk to the public.

‘There had been no clients involved and there was no suggestion that the work of the respondent was anything other than highly competent. Nor did it consider that the respondent posed a future risk to the reputation of the profession,’ the judgment stated.

The partnership of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer last December voted in sweeping reforms to its handling of misbehaviour, including financial penalties, as a way of mitigating the #MeToo fallout.

The move to establish a conduct committee followed a consultation and implements new enforcement protocols that mean partners who receive a final warning about their behaviour could face an automatic fine equal to 20% of their profit share for 12 months. The model is similar to those that have been successfully rolled out elsewhere in professional services, such as accountancy and consultancy firms.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Freshfields under financial and reputational fire in Germany as cum-ex tax scandal rolls on

Freshfields under financial and reputational fire in Germany as cum-ex tax scandal rolls on

Marco Cillario and Nathalie Tidman report on Freshfields’ role in the tax scandal rocking Germany

It is not often that a law firm makes headlines outside the legal media, yet the name Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is rapidly becoming a regular feature of German newspapers. That is bad news for the City giant. How bad, many are currently trying to assess.

Legal Business

‘Unlikely to be repeated’: SDT justifies sanctions in Freshfields’ Beckwith misconduct case

‘Unlikely to be repeated’: SDT justifies sanctions in Freshfields’ Beckwith misconduct case

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal’s (SDT) controversial decision to fine instead of ban Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Ryan Beckwith was because his misconduct was ‘a lapse in his judgement’ and ‘unlikely to be repeated’.

The SDT published today (4 Feburary) its judgment detailing its full reasons after the tribunal last October fined Beckwith £35,000 and ordered him to pay costs of £200,000 for engaging in sexual activity with a junior female colleague in circumstances in which she was ‘intoxicated to the extent that her judgement was impaired’.

In the ruling, the SDT said that Beckwith’s misconduct ‘was caused by a lapse in his judgement that was highly unlikely to be repeated’ and did not find he posed a future risk to the public.

‘There had been no clients involved and there was no suggestion that the work of the respondent was anything other than highly competent. Nor did it consider that the respondent posed a future risk to the reputation of the profession,’ the judgment added.

The sanctions were made in light of the tribunal’s decision that ‘this was a one-off incident where there was no suggestion that he [Beckwith] had coerced or manipulated Person A [the junior lawyer]. It was not the applicant’s case that the respondent had deliberately plied Person A with drink with a view to getting her into such an intoxicated state that she would then engage in sexual activity.’

‘Nor was it the case that he had used his position of seniority and authority to engineer the sexual encounter,’ the decision adds.

The tribunal found that, although Beckwith had ‘engaged in inappropriate conduct in circumstances where his judgement had been affected by the amount of alcohol he had consumed,’ it did not find that the circumstances of the case were such that a restriction order was necessary in order to protect the public.

It describes the fine of £35,000 as ‘appropriate and proportionate in all the circumstances’.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which referred Beckwith to the SDT for prosecution in late June 2018, is weighing whether to appeal the decision.

An SRA spokesperson said: ‘We are reviewing the judgment and will then decide on next steps. We have 21 days from today, publication day, to lodge any appeal, if there is one.’

In October, the tribunal found Beckwith’s behaviour was in breach of principles two and six of the solicitors’ code of conduct, requiring solicitors to ‘act with integrity’ and ‘behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services’.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Freshfields lags Magic Circle as management pay drops 20% amid muted top line growth

Freshfields lags Magic Circle as management pay drops 20% amid muted top line growth

The management of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has seen a 20% drop in pay even as its Asia business offered a silver lining with double-digit turnover growth.

Published today [31 January], the City giant’s LLP accounts for the financial year to 30 April 2019 make for subdued reading as the firm grew its top line by only 4.2% – or £61m – to £1.493bn from £1.432bn the previous year. Management pay fell from £18.6m to £14.9m.

The accounts show a lagging financial position in revenue terms among its Magic Circle peers to have reported so far. Clifford Chance’s (CC) turnover reached £1.693bn after adding £70m to its top line in a year of 4% revenue growth and Allen & Overy (A&O) benefited from a foreign exchange gain of £9m to achieve 5% revenue growth to £1.627m from £1.552m in 2018.

Freshfields’ revenue growth in Europe was especially lacklustre, with the firm increasing turnover in its most mature region by a slim 1.5% to hit £1.15bn. Asia revenues took a turn for the better, growing 27% to £157m from £124m the previous year. Also a fillip, given its increasingly urgent US strategy, will be a 7% uptick in revenue from its stateside business.

Operating profit grew 6% to £508.4m even as the firm invested £1.8m in its office relocation to Bishopsgate later this year. Staff costs increased around 4% to £692.4m in spite of its secretarial and support staff numbers falling from 2,062 people to 1,987.

Other headline figures at CC were a 5% decrease to its UK LLP’s operating profit to £260m amid rising pension costs, while management at City rival Allen & Overy (A&O) saw an 8% pay rise to £16m.

The Freshfields LLPs cap off an eventful financial year at Fleet Street. It was the year buyout star Adrian Maguire finally succumbed to the allure of Kirkland & Ellis in January 2019 and restructuring partner Ryan Beckwith was suspended amid #MeToo allegations in April ahead of a damning and high-profile Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal prosecution.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

A record year for ethnic minorities as Clydes, Freshfields, HSF and White & Case partners make 2019 silk round

A record year for ethnic minorities as Clydes, Freshfields, HSF and White & Case partners make 2019 silk round

The number of new Queen’s Counsel (QC) has rebounded after a 2018 dip, including a record 22 appointments from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The proportion of female appointments fell, however, two percentage points to 28% of successful candidates, making up 30 of the 114 to take up silk in total. A total of 108 QCs were appointed last year.

Five solicitors from outside the UK and with practices focused on international arbitration were also appointed to QC. They include Singapore-based Sapna Jhangiani from Clyde & Co, who was one of the QCs of ethnic minority backgrounds appointed, Magic Circle partners Nigel Blackaby from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Washington and Simon Chapman from Herbert Smith Freehills in Hong Kong were appointed.

Andrew de Lotbiniere McDougall from White & Case and Jason Fry from Clifford Chance, both based in Paris, were also named as QCs.

McDougall told Legal Business: ‘I’m honoured to receive such a prestigious award. It’s particularly meaningful to me and a true honour. I just looked at the list quickly and I see some friends and people I know. It’s encouraging and a real privilege to be recognised alongside people who practice in court on a day to day basis and that our practice of international arbitration is considered at the same level.’

Fountain Court had a record year following the appointment of six new QCs, including Giles Wheeler, Edward Levey, Robin Barclay, Chloe Carpenter, Ben Lynch and Tamara Oppenheimer. Other notable chambers such as Essex Court, 4 Pump Court and 1 Crown Office Row did not appear on this year’s list.

The 30 women appointed was said to be ‘comparatively low’ by the chair of the selection panel, Sir Alex Allan: ‘I am pleased that of those women who did apply, almost 60% were successful.’

The overall number of QCs appointed this year increased by five per cent. All appointed QCs will formally become silks at a ceremony on 16 March 2020.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

 

The full list of appointments (in alphabetical order):  

Dominic James Adamson, Temple Garden Chambers

William Andrew Allen, Outer Temple Chambers

William Siward Atkins, Maitland Chambers

Robin Nicholas John Barclay, Fountain Court Chambers

Jonathan James Barnard, Cloth Fair Chambers

Zoë Maria Marsden Barton, Wilberforce Chambers

Nigel Alexander Blackaby, Freshfields

David Anthony Blundell, Landmark Chambers

Christopher Leigh Wilson Boardman, Radcliffe Chambers

Samantha Jane Bowcock, 15 Winckley Square

Michael Antony Brady, 18 St John Street Chambers

Cameron Kennedy Duncan Brown, Red Lion Chambers

Stewart John Buckingham, Quadrant Chambers

Matthew Paul Butt, Three Raymond Building

Henry James Byam-Cook, Twenty Essex

Rebecca Jane Carew Pole, 1 Hare Court

Chloe Carpenter, Fountain Court Chambers

James Frederick Horatio Carpenter, Hailsham Chambers

Jennifer Anne Carter-Manning, 7BR

Simon James Chapman, Herbert Smith Freehills

Allison Jean Clare, Red Lion Chambers

Timothy Donald Collingwood, Serle Court

Ben Lion Cooper, Doughty Street Chambers

Gary Adam Cowen, Falcon Chambers

Nicholas John de la Poer, New Park Court

Marcus Benedict Dignum, 12 King’s Bench Walk

Louis George Doyle, Kings Chambers

Delroy Benell Duncan, Cloisters

Richard Mark Fisher, South Square

Mark Steven Ford, Lincoln House Chambers

Jason Alva Fry, Clifford Chance

Gurdeep Singh Garcha, Citadel Chambers

Peter Seamus Patrick Goatley, No5 Chambers

James Daniel Goldsmith, One Essex Court

Mark Narayan Graffius, 2 Hare Court

Andrew Timothy Grantham, Kings Chambers

Alexander Edward Hall Taylor, 4 New Square

Justin Beresford Higgo, Serle Court

Samantha Hillas, St Johns Buildings

John Leslie Hipkin, Iscoed Chambers

Jamas Rusi Hodivala, Matrix Chambers

Syed Ahmed Izharul Hossain, Temple Court

Frida Hussain, Furnival Chambers

Sapna Jhangiani, Clyde & Co

Leon Samuel Kazakos, 2 Hare Court

Martin Goddard Kingerley, 36 Family

Jennifer Claudia Knight, Two Harcourt Buildings

Adrian Mark Langdale, 7BR

Blair Patricia Leahy, Twenty Essex

Krista Lee, Keating Chambers

Edward Michael Levey, Fountain Court Chambers

Richard Ian Liddell, 4 New Square

Benjamin John Patrick Lynch, Fountain Court Chambers

Scott Edward Lyness, Landmark Chambers

Shantanu Joseph Majumdar, Radcliffe

Roger Mallalieu, 4 New Square

Aileen McColgan, 11KBW

Andrew de Lotbinière McDougall, White & Case

Gerard Patrick McMeel, Quadrant Chambers

John Mehrzad, Littleton Chambers

Julian Robert Milford, 11 KBW

Barbara Mills, 4 Paper Buildings

Peter Mitchell, 29 Bedford Row

Eleni Mitrophanous, Matrix Chambers

Anurag Mohindru, Foundry Chambers

Andrew Matthew Stephen Mold, Wilberforce Chambers

Veronica Allison Munroe, Garden Court Chambers

Charlotte Anne Newell, 5 Kings Bench Walk

Katharine Julia Newton, Old Square Chambers

Andrew James Steedsman Norris, Hogarth Chambers

Harry John William Oliver, 1 Kings Bench Walk

Ijeoma Chinyelu Omambala, Old Square Chambers

Tamara Helen Pasternak Oppenheimer, Fountain Court Chambers

Jane Elizabeth Osborne, 2 Harcourt Buildings

Deshpal Panesar, Old Square Chambers

Conall Patton, One Essex Court

Cleo Perry, 4 Paper Buildings

James Patrick Pickering, Enterprise Chambers

David Richard Pievsky, Blackstone Chambers

Marcus James Pilgerstorfer, 11 KBW

Rajesh Pillai, 3VB

Henry William Stodart Pitchers, No5 Chambers

Sarah Selena Rixar Plowden, Guildhall Chambers

Paul Nikolai Raudnitz, Hollis Whiteman

Stanley Reiz, 2 Bedford Row

Philip Geoffrey Hurry Riches, Twenty Essex

Jeremy John Richmond, Quadrant Chambers

Brendan Roche, 7 Bedford Row Chambers

Adam Julius Rosenthal, Falcon Chambers

Noah Daniel Rubins, Freshfields

Harish Salve, Blackstone Chambers

Jonathan Robert Sampson, Harcourt Chambers

Jonathan Sandiford, St Pauls Chambers

Amanda Claire Savage, 4 New Square

David Luke Scannell, Brick Court Chambers

James Jeffrey Segan, Blackstone Chambers

Katherine Emma Selway, Radcliffe Chambers

Sharif Asim Shivji, 4 Stone Buildings

Stephen John Simblet, Garden Court Chambers

Melanie Denise Simpson, 25 Bedford Row

Adam Speker, 5RB

Heidi Lorraine Stonecliffe, UK Government

Timothy James Storrie, Lincoln House Chambers

Allison Summers, Drystone Chambers

Jacqueline Louise Thomas, Spire Barristers

Andrew James Thornton, Erskine Chambers

Rebecca Louise Tuck, Old Square Chambers

Richard Daniel Wald, 39 Essex Chambers

Henry Warwick, Henderson Chambers

Simon Mark Webster, 1 Hare Court

Colin West, Brick Court

Giles Neil Laurence Wheeler, Fountain Court Chambers

Robert Brychan James Williams, Monckton Chambers

Stephen Wood, Broadway House