Legal Business

Legal Business Awards 2020 – Competition Team of the Year

Legal Business Awards 2020 – Competition Team of the Year

The entries were reviewed and our panel of general counsel judges delivered their verdicts: we are now delighted to reveal the winner of Competition Team of the Year for the 2020 Legal Business Awards.

This award is given to the team based in either the UK or Brussels that can demonstrate crucial antitrust advice on a specific case, transaction or investigation, or was instrumental in steering a client through a regulatory minefield.

 


 

 


Sponsored by

Winner – CMS

Cox Automotive and Auto Trader agreed a joint venture (JV) to create Dealer Auction, a business-to-business online auction trading platform for the wholesale remarketing of vehicles.

Unusually, and recognising that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) merger control process was a central hurdle, the CMS competition team, led by co-head of competition Brian Sher, was instructed as sole counsel to lead that process for both JV parties.

The proposed JV coincided with a core focus on digital mergers by the CMA, against a backdrop of ongoing worldwide reviews into the application of competition law in the digital sector and a feeling the CMA had not done enough to prevent the adverse competition effects of increasing concentration in digital. This, combined with the fact that the JV would combine two platforms with sell-side market shares between 60 and 70% and limited direct competitors, led to a CMA theory of harm that the JV would eliminate a key ‘potential competitor’ to Cox, and that existing competitors were insufficient to constrain it from exercising market power. The CMA seemed intent on making this the first ‘potential competition’ case to go to a potentially punishing Phase Two review.

However, CMS managed to turn the CMA around during the Phase One process by demonstrating that the market shares over-stated the market power the JV would have given the close interaction between physical and digital sales; and the evidence that the conversion rate of Auto Trader’s listings site was likely to be lower than that of Cox’s digital auction platform.

CMS achieved an unexpectedly early victory, and this allowed integration to begin on time, saving the business risks that can come with a protracted competition delay. Such an effective handling of the competition process led Martin Forbes, chief executive officer of Cox Automotive, to say: ‘I was hugely impressed by the quality of thought, commitment, passion and work ethic with which CMS navigated us through this challenging CMA process. Simply put, they were outstanding. It really does feel like we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and it feels good. Although absolutely the right decision by the CMA, I still can’t quite believe we managed to get this approved at Phase One.’

Highly Commended – Sidley Austin

Sidley’s London office, led by partner Marie Manley, was co-lead counsel to French pharmaceutical company Les Laboratoires Servier in a landmark case before the EU General Court against a European Commission decision alleging a breach of European competition rules for entering into patent settlement agreements with six generic companies.

In 2014, the European Commission imposed fines totalling €427.7m on Servier and the manufacturers, leading to a landmark test case in Europe. In December 2018 the General Court partially quashed the Commission’s ruling that Servier had engaged in anticompetitive conduct in the patent settlement agreements. Crucially, it annulled not only the decision on the anticompetitive nature of the agreement but also the conclusion that Servier was in a dominant position, holding that the relevant market had been too narrowly defined. As a result, the fine imposed on Servier was reduced by one-third – a significant victory for the innovative pharmaceutical industry. It was also the first time since 1973 that the General Court annulled a decision by the Commission on abuse of dominance based on an incorrect definition of the relevant market.

Other nominations

Ashurst/Gowling WLG

The two firms successfully collaborated in representing Economy Energy Trading and E (Gas and Electricity) to achieve a 75% reduction in combined financial penalties imposed by Ofgem for anti-competitive agreements in the prepayment meter segment.

Bristows

Successfully challenged the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport over a public interest intervention notice it had issued, raising concerns about investments in The Independent and The Evening Standard by Saudi Arabian investors.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

Advising Connect Airways and Cyrus Capital Partners on their acquisition of Flybe Group, securing a rare derogation decision from the European Commission to allow the clients to complete the transaction prior to official merger clearance.

Slaughter and May

Overcoming significant opposition to Vodafone’s acquisition of Liberty Global’s telecoms businesses in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. The deal was referred for Phase 2 investigation, but was cleared to give Vodafone the largest next-generation network in Europe.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher

Successfully representing Expedia in the Competition and Markets Authority’s 18-month investigation into online hotel booking sites in the UK, specifically into the display of ranking results and the comparison of offers.

Legal Business

‘Natural attrition’: Sidley’s London growth grinds to virtual halt as global revenue nears $2.4bn

‘Natural attrition’: Sidley’s London growth grinds to virtual halt as global revenue nears $2.4bn

Sidley Austin’s City base grew by less than 1% and missed expectations it would turn a profit in 2019, as the firm’s global growth also slowed.

The Chicago-bred firm reported yesterday (4 March) revenue of £98.1m for its City base compared to £97.5m the previous year, despite a 6% increase in its London lawyer headcount to 153.

Its global top line rose by 5% to $2.34bn, even as it trimmed its legal workforce 1% to 1,922. Profit per equity partner (PEP) rose by a more convincing 10% to $2.82m, although this was partly due to a 6% drop in its equity ranks to 313. Revenue per lawyer reported a healthy 7% rise to $1.22m.

The results mark a slowdown for Sidley, having in 2018 reported stronger performances in most metrics, as revenue lifted 9% to $2.2bn and PEP 13% to $2.55m.

The 2019 financial results also mark four years since the firm started building a European sponsor practice from a virtual standing start. Sidley has since February 2016 recruited over 75 lawyers in London and Munich working with private equity clients across M&A, finance, restructuring and tax – an investment of over $40m. The majority of the recruits came from long-time Chicago rival Kirkland & Ellis.

‘We have seen a 12% [London] revenue growth per year on average over the last three years, we are pretty impressed with the results,’ said Europe-based executive committee member Erik Dahl, one of the former Kirkland partners who made the switch in 2016. The City base reported two consecutive years of 14% revenue growth in 2017 and 2018, both times outpacing the firm’s global performance.

Sidley had expected its previously loss-making London office to turn a profit in 2019 as those investments paid off. But the firm could not confirm this had happened, although London partner Christian Iwasko (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘Our London revenue has grown and our cost base has been reduced. The firm is very happy with the direction of travel.’

The London office moved to new premises at 70 St Mary Axe last month, in the building dubbed the Can of Ham, with room to increase its legal workforce by around 20% and the option to expand office space by 25%.

Dahl denied the drop in global lawyer and partner headcount was due to a restructuring effort: ‘This is part and parcel of our strategic initiative to increase our PE and restructuring business and maintain excellent litigation and regulatory practices and other businesses.’

He added: ‘As we focus on more profitability in that sector, there is a natural attrition that’s occurred with people retiring, moving on and the like, and us being conservative in terms of replacement. We are focusing on the more big ticket stuff.’

In terms of mandates, Iwasko mentioned long-time client Towerbrook being active last year, with the Sidley team advising the PE house on deals including the investment in GBA Group. He added that Global Loan Agency Services had become one of the largest clients of the PE practice, which worked on mandates including the restructuring of Galapagos and Bartec.

Dahl also pointed to a strong performance from the firm’s Munich base, launched in 2017 with a seven-partner hire from Kirkland. That office has since grown to ten partners and over 30 lawyers focusing on PE, restructuring, leveraged finance and tax: ‘Just under three years into the project, we have revenues in excess of €30m [in Germany].’

Looking ahead, he said the firm would continue to focus on building out a PE and restructuring practice in the US, particularly New York. Hires last year included Shearman & Sterling private capital co-head Brien Wassner.

Sidley’s London base is not alone in posting underwhelming financials in 2019. New York firms White & Case and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft both saw City turnover fall by around 4%, to $337m and $41.3m respectively. However, Los Angeles-bred giant Latham & Watkins saw its London top line rise by more than 15% to about $450m.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

For more on Sidley’s daring attempt to build an elite private equity practice starting from Europe, see ‘The big long’ (£)

Legal Business

Kirkland alumni gets nod as Sidley promotes two in London following 30-strong promotion round

Kirkland alumni gets nod as Sidley promotes two in London following 30-strong promotion round

Sidley Austin has promoted two of its City associates to partner, including one of the 40 lawyers who has joined the firm from Chicago rival Kirkland & Ellis over the last three years.

The round announced today (12 December) saw the number of those minted in the City lift on last year, when the firm only promoted one, but saw Sidley focus heavily on its Washington DC branch, which accounted for 11 of the 30 global promotions.

City private equity lawyer Michelle Tong became the first Kirkland alumni to be promoted to the partnership after moving to the firm in February 2016 as an associate as part of a six-partner transactional team led by Erik Dahl and Christian Iwasko in a daring attempt to build an elite sponsor practice starting from Europe.

Dahl told Legal Business Tong’s promotion was a ‘positive endorsement of our group from the firm’. He added: ‘The London office is growing and will continue to grow organically in addition to lateral hires.’

London litigator Alastair Hopwood also got the nod today, but overall the firm continued to focus heavily on its heartlands, with 25 lawyers minted in the US.

Chicago saw the second largest intake after DC with six lawyers promoted; New York got three new partners; San Francisco and Houston two each; Dallas one. The firm also promoted three lawyers in Asia, two in Hong Kong and one in Tokyo.

Scrutiny of the firm’s partnership promotions in the City has increased since the hire of the Kirkland team, as the firm deploys a very different system to the one the group was used to. While Kirkland’s fast-track promotion model means a salary partnership for swathes of associates at year six, Sidley’s associates are generally promoted about nine years post-qualification.

Although Sidley’s global promotion rounds have become larger since the team joined – from 16 at the end of 2016 to 30 in both 2018 and 2019, Europe has hardly been the focus, with the firm promoting just two in the three rounds before this year’s.

The former Kirkland team has been pushing for more flexibility on promotions to allow performers to make partner earlier.

Dahl said he expected another four to six London promotions in the next three years: ‘Our business is increasing. Sidley is a completely different firm since we have been here.’

Sidley’s most recent set of financials showed the Chicago-bred firm increased its revenue 9% to $2.2bn in 2018, while profit per equity partner grew 13% to $2.55m. Its London branch outpaced the firm’s global growth, with top line growth of 14% to £97.5m.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

For more on Sidley’s attempt to build a private equity practice see: ‘The big long

Legal Business

Sponsored firm profile: Sidley Austin

Sponsored firm profile: Sidley Austin

Sidley Austin’s place in the top ten global law firms is well established. Integral to this is a standout international disputes capability, which contributes approximately a third of the firm’s total revenue ($2.2bn in 2018) and engages over 500 lawyers dealing with domestic and international litigation, international arbitration and cross-border investigations.

Sidley’s London office is home to over 140 lawyers, most of whom are English-law qualified. In non-contentious matters, Sidley’s London office acts in the most complex and cutting-edge transactions in private equity, M&A, restructuring, structured finance, capital markets, investment funds and insurance, as well as boasting a market-leading financial services regulatory advisory practice. Additionally, and befitting the firm’s global profile, Sidley’s London dispute resolution group acts for clients in some of the largest business-critical disputes and investigations in the London market. By virtue of the depth and breadth of its experience, and bolstered by recent strategic recruitment, the group is well placed to provide a stellar service to its clients across all disputes practice areas.

Legal Business

Global London: The Big Long – Inside Sidley’s daring attempt to relaunch as a private equity leader

Global London: The Big Long – Inside Sidley’s daring attempt to relaunch as a private equity leader

Summer 2015. Four US lawyers meet at Nobu restaurant in London. Sidley Austin management committee chair Larry Barden and Europe head George Petrow have invited two City-based lifers from long-time Chicago rival Kirkland & Ellis: private equity (PE) partners Erik Dahl and Christian Iwasko. On the table is a plan to shake up Sidley’s loss-making London operation by building a PE practice from scratch. Dahl and Iwasko are sceptical, but their patience with Kirkland has been worn thin by its latest round of top-dollar hires.

A few weeks later, Dahl and Iwasko sneak out of a Kirkland partner conference in Chicago to meet Barden and Petrow again. Doubt is giving way to enthusiasm: Sidley is prepared to invest an eye-catching sum and give the duo free reign. Six months later, the deal is signed. Dahl, Iwasko and four other London partners join Sidley in February 2016.

Legal Business

‘Only the beginning’: Latham adds more than $300m to top line as Sidley nears £100m in the City

‘Only the beginning’: Latham adds more than $300m to top line as Sidley nears £100m in the City

A year after becoming the first law firm to break the $3bn barrier, Latham & Watkins has posted an even stronger set of financial results, growing revenue at a faster 11% rate to hit $3.386bn in 2018.

Meanwhile, Sidley Austin joined the growing number of US firms to report double-digit growth for their City operations in 2018, hiking London revenue 14% to £97.5m.

Latham announced today (1 March) it added $323m to its top line in 2018, momentarily becoming the highest grossing law firm in the world, as profits per equity partner (PEP) rose 6% to $3.45m. Revenue per lawyer rose 6% to $1.33m, as lawyer headcount rose 4% to 2,540. Last year revenue rose 9% to $3.06bn and PEP 6% to $3.24m.

Speaking to Legal Business, chair Richard Trobman hailed the firm’s tenth consecutive year of growth, which has seen $1.1bn added to its top line in the last six years alone.

‘2018 started strong and ended strong; we saw a consistent demand for our services throughout the year,’ said Trobman, pointing to ‘a fantastic year’ on the litigation front and adding that the value of M&A deals the firm acted on in 2018 was up 60% to $618bn. Mandates  included advising Carlyle on the €10bn acquisition of AkzoNobel’s specialty chemicals business, the largest European buyout in 2018, and Global Infrastructure Partners on the acquisition of the Italian railway operator Italo – Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori.

PEP grew at a slower pace last year, with the firm growing its equity partnership by 11 to 488 and its total partnership by 49 to 730. London outpaced the firm’s global revenue growth by several percentage points, although the firm did not disclose revenue for its City office. ‘London had a spectacular year,’ said Trobman. ‘It is a key part of our success and is going to be a core part of the Latham platform.’

The firm made 19 lateral hires in Europe in 2018. In London it added litigators Jon Holland and Andrea Monks from Hogan Lovells, restructuring partners Yen Sum and Jennifer Brennan from Sidley Austin, infrastructure partners Brendan Moylan and Conrad Andersen from Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy, as well as regulatory partner Carl Fernandez from Linklaters.

However, the year was not entirely positive. Chair Bill Voge resigned in March 2018 amid allegations of misconduct. Trobman was elected to replace him in June, seeing off competition from seven other candidates.

Trobman concluded: ‘We are really optimistic for the future, what we are seeing today is really only the beginning, we see ourselves pushing to even greater heights.’

Meanwhile, Sidley Austin’s City base also grew at a faster pace than the firm globally as it announced one of its best financial performances since the banking crisis, with firmwide revenue up 9% to $2.2bn from $2.04bn.

PEP at the Chicago-bred firm rose 13% to $2.55m, the highest growth in a decade as it shrunk its equity partnership by 2% to 334. Revenue per lawyer rose 5% to $1.14m, with the firm’s headcount growing 4% to 1,943.

Its London revenue rose 14% from £85.7m, a performance which London head Thomas Thesing described as reflecting ‘high levels of demand across all our service offerings. We saw some of our investment in transactional work pay off; strong demand in restructuring and regulatory.’

The City office, which has been building a private equity practice over the last three years since the recruitment of more than a dozen partners from Kirkland in 2016/17, saw some lateral movement  in 2018. It launched a London life sciences practice with the hire of Marie Manley from Bristows , but losses from its City base over the last few months included restructuring star Yen Sum and partner Jennifer Brennan to Latham, former London managing partner and finance co-head Matthew Dening to Baker McKenzie, litigation co-head Dorothy Cory-Wright to Dechert and M&A partner Mark Thompson to Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

Eyes will now inevitably turn to Kirkland & Ellis, which will announce its 2018 financials soon, to see whether it has once again topped Latham and retained its position as the highest-grossing law firm in the world . Either way, these financials from Latham and Sidley are the latest in a number of results that point to a booming 2018 for several US firms, both globally and in the City.

Marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Global London: Sidley Austin launches London life sciences practice with senior hire from Bristows

Global London: Sidley Austin launches London life sciences practice with senior hire from Bristows

Sidley Austin has today (6 March) announced the recruitment of Marie Manley, formerly of Bristows’ life sciences team, as it launches its own practice in the City.

Manley will now lead Sidley’s life sciences team in London, which will focus on areas such as medical device and drug regulation, intellectual property and private equity and will play a pivotal role in providing services to Sidley’s global life sciences clients.

Manley has a long track record in representing biopharma companies before English and EU courts and led Bristows’ sector regulatory practice, with particular experience on the issues arising from life cycle of medicinal products, including advertising, product liability and competition. Described as ‘a tenacious litigator’ in the current edition of The Legal 500 UK, Manley’s appointment represents a new direction for Sidley’s London branch, despite a wider reputation for life sciences work in the US.

The managing partner of Sidley’s London office, Matthew Dening, heralded the acquisition, stating: ‘Marie’s deep understanding of the EU and UK regulatory climates and her extensive experience in contentious proceedings will enhance our offering to life sciences clients.’

Manley said she the move reflects ‘a new and exciting platform to grow and develop my practice and assist my clients in a globalised world where bio/pharma companies are facing multiple cross-border challenges in which consistency of approach in all key jurisdictions is paramount.’

Sidley’s move comes against the backdrop of a strong London showing, with 2017 bringing a 14% City revenue hike to £85.7m. At the end of 2017, the firm also tapped Simpson Thacher & Bartlett for a pair of private equity specialists in London.

Thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Global London: Sidley and MoFo City outposts record double-digit revenue growth

Global London: Sidley and MoFo City outposts record double-digit revenue growth

Continuing the strong showing from US firms in London recently, Sidley Austin and Morrison & Foerster (MoFo)’s City offices recorded a convincing performance in 2017, each posting double-digit percentage growth in their top line.

Expansive global giant Sidley posted a 14% City revenue hike to £85.7m in a year marked by five headline lateral hires for the firm’s M&A, restructuring and capital markets teams.

London managing partner Matthew Dening told Legal Business of his satisfaction at seeing the firm’s investment paying off.

Sidley grew London headcount 5% to 141, bringing in partners including restructuring rising star Yen Sum from Linklaters ], M&A partner James Wood from Ashurst and private equity specialists Wim De Vlieger and Till Lefranc from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

‘All groups were very busy,’ said Dening. ‘There was broad demand for our services.’ Along with private equity and restructuring, he described the firm’s regulatory team as ‘incredibly busy’ throughout the year.

Sidley acted on Apollo Global Management’s acquisition of a majority stake in insurance specialist Catalina, the restructuring of fashion retailer New Look and the liquidation of offshore driller Ocean Rig. The firm also won a spot on private equity house TPG’s first European panel.

The London office performance came as Sidley also grew both its global top line and PEP 6%, to $2.04bn and $2.26m respectively.

Meanwhile, MoFo’s UK revenue grew 29% to £24.72m in what Europe managing partner Paul Friedman described as a ‘transformational year’ for the London office.

‘We have increased our connectivity with our global and UK-based clients, and with our colleagues throughout the MoFo network,’ said Friedman, pointing to the particularly ‘robust’ performance of the corporate, disputes and investigations teams.

Deals the firm acted on included advising SoftBank Group in its SoftBank Vision Fund’s $4.4bn investment into WeWork Companies. MoFo also acted for Toshiba and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan on their $2.4bn sale of Landis+GYR Group AG.

Globally the firm posted a 12% revenue hike to $1.06bn as its headcount remained virtually unchanged at 960 compared to last year’s 956. PEP surged 23% to a record $1.75m with the firm reducing its equity headcount 4% to 224 partners.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

US firms continue City growth as White & Case and Cooley see double-digit revenue spike

US firms continue City growth as White & Case and Cooley see double-digit revenue spike

White & Case’s City office posted revenue of $328m for 2017, a 13% increase on last year’s $290m figure, while Cooley has reached $57.5m in its third year in London. Globally, Sidley Austin has also posted significant revenue and profit growth for 2017.

2017 global revenues for White & Case also saw a substantial boost, standing at $1.8bn, a 10% increase from $1.63bn last year. Profits per equity partner also leapt 10.2% to $2.26m, a 10% rise on $2.05m last year. The number of total equity partners grew by 7% to 319 from 299 the previous year.

London executive partner Oliver Brettle told Legal Business: ‘These results show significant percentage increases, building on already excellent figures. We’ve successfully achieved quality, strong, sustainable growth in 2017 across the board for the firm’s key practice areas, reflecting our investment across those practices.’

‘The results point to the increasing attractiveness of the firm to clients who want to place significant transactions and matters with White & Case’, Brettle added.

Brettle said that among the London office’s standout matters was the £1bn Alfa Financial Software IPO from May 2017, the $10bn refinancing of Wind Tre in November and the $2.73bn Nacala Corridor project in Africa, which was led out of London.

In January last year, White & Case also advised Harbour Energy, the energy investment vehicle managed by EIG Global Energy Partners, on a deal to lead the $3bn acquisition by Chrysaor of a portfolio of oil and gas assets in the North Sea from Shell UK.

Meanwhile 2017 saw three high-profile London hires for the firm in the form of Clifford Chance’s M&A partner Patrick Sarch, capital markets partner Chris McGarry from Ropes & Gray and antitrust partner Marc Israel from Mcafarlanes.

The lateral hiring spree in the City has continued in 2018, including disputes partner Hannah Field-Lowes, who joined on 1 February from Weil, Gotshal & Manges where she was co-head of international dispute resolution. Daniel Turgel joined the firm’s global M&A practice in January from Linklaters and corporate partner Dominic Ross is due shortly to join from Ashurst.

Meanwhile, Cooley’s London outpost recorded an eye-catching 22% revenue growth to $57.5m in its third year of life as the firm’s global turnover passed the $1bn mark.

The Palo Alto-bred firm saw profits per equity partner jump 6% to $2.08m in 2017, while global revenue grew 10% to $1.07bn from $974m  and revenue per lawyer hit $1.2m.

Its London outpost grew revenue by almost a quarter on last year’s $47m despite a relatively quiet 2017 on the lateral market, with the firm adding only one London partner.

‘It was a very busy year, we had some very nice matters both in the transactional and litigation space that kept the office really busy, particularly in the second half of the year,’ London managing partner Justin Stock told Legal Business.

The firm’s capital markets practice was particularly active and the firm claims it did more than 50% of UK companies’ listings on Nasdaq in 2017.

US clients generated about 25% of the firm’s London revenue and Stock said the office had made a contribution to a number of US mandates: ‘It is an advantage to have both the UK and US expertise.’

The firm’s UK and US teams worked together on the $1.1bn acquisition of Apollo Education Group by investors including The Vistria Group, which closed in February last year. Stock said its office had also made a contribution on the Snapchat IPO .

The firm’s only European base, Cooley made a dramatic entrance in London in 2015 with a team of 55 lawyers including 20 partners from Edwards Wildman and Morrison & Foerster.

It has since grown its City headcount to 28 partners and 52 other lawyers through a number of headline hires from global rivals. Stock said he aimed at bringing the headcount to over 100 lawyers in 2018 and to 150 in the next three years.

Cooley recently recruited cross-border deals specialist Michal Berkner from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Hogan Lovells head of international products Rod Freeman.

It previously recruited Mayer Brown senior finance partner John Clark and prominent Sullivan & Cromwell litigator Louise Delahunty .

Elsewhere, Sidley Austin has grown both global revenue and PEP for the seventh consecutive year. Global fee income at the US giant rose to $2.04bn, a 6% increase on last year’s $1.93bn.

PEP was up 6% to $2.26m and headcount rose 2% to 1,873 lawyers in a year marked by headline deals such as the recruitment of seven partners from Kirkland & Ellis in Munich last February.

Marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Ex-Sidley partner cleared in tax case as CPS admits ‘wholesale failures’ while Dentons partner leaves following harassment inquiry

Ex-Sidley partner cleared in tax case as CPS admits ‘wholesale failures’ while Dentons partner leaves following harassment inquiry

Former Sidley Austin partner Matthew Cahill, who was accused of tax offences, has had all charges against him dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) admitted to ‘wholesale failures’ in its disclosure process. Meanwhile, a Dentons partner accused of sexual harassment has left the firm following an internal investigation.

Cahill’s charges related to investments he made in Zeus Partners, a film scheme setup by HSBC, which HMRC deemed to be fraudulent in December 2015.

Cahill and a KPMG partner, as well as a JPMorgan banker, were the only three investors to be prosecuted out of a wider group of 400 individuals who had invested in the schemes. However the charges against Cahill were dropped in July 2017, before he had even filed a legal defence.

The prosecution submitted a written statement of position to Birmingham Crown Court in December last year, in which it admitted to ‘wholesale failures’ in its disclosure process as well as a ‘clear and stark’ failure to follow certain lines of inquiry.

The admissions came after the prosecution replaced its lead counsel, 7BR’s Andrew Wheeler QC and 4 Breams Buildings’ Stuart Trimmer QC, with a new team led by Helen Malcolm QC of Three Raymond Buildings. The new prosecution team reviewed its case, and then admitted to the failures.

Corker Binning partner David Corker, who was instructed by Cahill, told Legal Business that there was a strong possibility that Cahill will sue the CPS. He said: ‘He’s angry. He had to leave his firm because of the prosecution. He’s pretty bitter about the situation.’

On the admission that the CPS failed to follow certain lines of inquiry, Corker said: ‘When they investigated Cahill, they didn’t investigate the role played by HSBC, who had marketed the scheme. It was as if they had left HSBC to the side.’

Both the CPS and HMRC have confirmed that they will be conducting internal reviews into issues raised by Cahill’s case.

Matthew Dening, managing partner of Sidley’s London office, commented: ‘The firm was very pleased to learn of this outcome and, in particular, to learn that this ordeal is over for Matthew.’

Elsewhere, Dentons has confirmed that one of its partners accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour has left the firm.

The allegations made against the unnamed partner were made around 15 months ago, prior to Dentons’ tie-up with Scottish firm Maclay Murray and Spens (MMS).

Upon learning of the accusation, Dentons launched an internal investigation and placed the partner on a leave of absence. Despite the investigation finding no evidence of sexual harassment, the partner has now left the firm.

A Dentons statement read: ‘During the investigation it became apparent that the behaviour of the partner concerned fell well below the expectations that we have of our partners’.

The departure of the Dentons partner amid sexual harassment allegations follows a similar controversy at Baker McKenzie this week, where one of the firm’s partners has left after claims of sexual assault .

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk