Legal Business

‘We want to be the biggest’: Hausfeld deepens European footprint with new Paris office

‘We want to be the biggest’: Hausfeld deepens European footprint with new Paris office

US litigation specialist Hausfeld has added to its considerable strength on the continent with the opening of a new Paris office.

The new outpost will be Hausfeld’s fifth in Europe and tenth worldwide. French antitrust partner Laurent Geelhand will lead the Paris office supported by a team of seven French-speaking lawyers who will divide their time between London and Paris.

Geelhand joined the claimant specialists in 2014 after previously acting as general counsel (GC) of Michelin for 16 years. While there, he turned the tyre manufacturer’s legal department into a profit centre by pursuing close to €100m in cartel damages since 2003.

Geelhand told Legal Business: ‘We are formalising what we have already been doing. This week I was in Paris four out of five days meeting clients. We have a huge French client base, advising some of the largest French companies who are doing antitrust claims. Competition litigation is still an immature segment in France and there are no real players. We want to be the biggest firm in that segment.’

Unlike the firm’s 2015 Berlin launch,  which was backed with €30m from litigation funder Burford, the Paris office will not be opened in conjunction with a litigation funder. But Geelhand insisted that Hausfeld remains close to all the funders ‘so we can give clients tailor-made solutions’, while noting that a firm backed by a litigation funder is new to the French market.

On whether the Paris office will need to be built out with lateral hires in the coming months, Geelhand said: ‘We can run our operations, we are fully staffed. Let’s see our workload and if we can improve our client base in the coming months and then we will think about adding to the team. The door is open but we are very happy with our team.’

Since the Berlin opening, Hausfeld has also partnered with Burford to offer a financing package for UK claimants to pursue follow-on damages claims against the participants of a truck manufacturing cartel. Announced last July, the package will fund the ongoing costs of litigation and protect claimants against any adverse cost exposure.

Before Paris, Hausfeld’s most recent office opening was Düsseldorf in June 2017.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Hausfeld takes the wheel in truck cartel damages claim with funding from Burford

Hausfeld takes the wheel in truck cartel damages claim with funding from Burford

Competition boutique Hausfeld is partnering with litigation funder Burford Capital to offer a financing package for UK claimants to pursue follow-on damages claims against the participants in a truck manufacturing cartel.

In July last year, the European Commission (EC) found truck manufacturers MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF had operated a 14-year price-fixing cartel. As a result, the EC fined the cartelists a record-breaking €2.93bn, aside from MAN, which under EU leniency rules received full immunity for revealing the existence of the cartel.

In a statement, Hausfeld said that Burford will fund ‘the ongoing costs of litigation’ and will protect claimants against any adverse cost exposure.

Any business in the European Economic Area that suffered financial loss as a result of paying higher prices for trucks as a result of the cartel is entitled to claim compensation.

The announcement from Hausfeld and Burford means that new claimants in the UK can be funded to come forward and seek damages, adding to other UK-based actions from Royal Mail and the Road Haulage Association (RHA). London-based Hausfeld partner Scott Campbell will be leading for the firm.

Campbell told Legal Business he expects the claim value to rise into ‘the hundreds of millions’ and that a ‘large group of corporate claimants’ had already signed up.

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) partners Andrew Hockley and Edward Coulson are leading for Royal Mail’s claim. The RHA action, which is fully funded by Therium Capital, is being led by Backhouse Jones partner Steven Meyerhoff.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner Boris Bronfentrinker has been instructed on Daimler’s UK defence, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s global antitrust litigation head Jon Lawrence and partner Bea Tormey defending Volvo-owned Renault in the UK and several EU jurisdictions.

Iveco has enlisted Herbert Smith Freehills partner Kim Dietzel, while MAN has instructed Slaughter and May.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Hausfeld to open Berlin office with €30m investment from litigation funder Burford

Hausfeld to open Berlin office with €30m investment from litigation funder Burford

Third party litigation funder Burford Capital is investing €30m in US competition law boutique Hausfeld so it can open in Germany.

The Burford investment pot is the largest-known facility established to fund litigation in Germany, where Hausfeld states there is ‘significant and growing client demand for funding’, particularly in antitrust-related litigation.

Hausfeld’s new office will open by 1 January 2016 and will be located at Kurfürstendamm in Berlin, and the firm has secured an investment of at least €30m from litigation funder Burford to bankroll German claims.

The move follows significant action from the European Commission and Germany’s national competition regulator, namely the adoption of the European Directive on competition damages actions last year. Previously, companies bringing claims in Germany had limited access to the alternative fee and funding arrangements that can limit claimants’ ability to undertake high-stakes competition cases.

A statement this morning (28 October) added that Burford’s ‘commitment will ensure that these claims have the necessary resources’.

Hausfeld chair Michael Hausfeld said: ‘After increasing demand in Germany in recent years, we are delighted to expand our leading global competition litigation team and capacity to meet our clients’ needs in Germany at a key time in Europe as the enhanced rights for claimants under the EC damages directive becomes law next year. This is possible not only because of Burford’s committed capital but also its commitment to understanding the needs and opportunities of our firm and its clients.’

Anthony Maton, managing partner of Hausfeld in London, said: ‘We see this venture as a brilliant next step for our firm: it will enhance our ability to offer our clients, among the leading German corporations in the retail, transport and automotive sectors, the broadest menu of options in pursuing competition damage claims. This comes as we prepare strong additions on the ground in Germany in our core area of practice and build on our successful collaboration with Burford in London.”

Burford has recently tapped into the rebound in UK-based low-value claims, by launching a range of products to deal with cases ranging from £25,000 up to its traditional big-ticket litigation last year.

For more on third party funding, see Double-edged – cutting both ways with third party funding

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk