QATAR

Quinn Emanuel secures licence to launch an office in Qatar

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has secured a licence to launch an office in Qatar,  a move that will give the firm its first base in the Middle East.

The firm received approval from the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) earlier this month (7 November), allowing it to practise both international and local law in Doha.

Quinn construction partner James Bremen, who also chairs the firm’s construction and engineering practice, is named on the filing as its representative. He joined the US litigation powerhouse in December 2016 from Herbert Smith Freehills, to launch a UK construction disputes group.

It is understood the firm plans to find office space in the QFC early next year. The office will be led by Bremen and will include about five associates, all recruited locally in Doha. Bremen is expected to be the only partner in the office, dividing his time between London and Qatar. While at HSF, he also split his time between both these locations.

It will not be a full-service office but will serve Bremen’s practice, which is focused on construction projects and disputes.

Until 2006, international firms were restricted from launching in Doha without an association with a locally trained lawyer. Since then, the QFC has allowed firms to move in through its own separate regulatory framework.

The office opening will be the first for the firm in the Middle East and bucks a trend of international firms scaling back in the region.

In April, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) cut ties with local firm Majed Almarshad, leaving the firm with just one base in the Middle East.

Keystone Law to be listed on the London Stock Exchange

Keystone Law is set to become the third UK law firm to list on the London Stock Exchange after announcing its intention to float.

The firm said in a statement that it planned to join London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) later this month, with the new trading entity to be known as Keystone Law Group plc.

The firm said shares will begin trading on 27 November, with Keystone hoping to raise £15m in total, based on a placing price of 160 pence per share that values Keystone at £50m.

Keystone founder James Knight, who will become chief executive of the listed company, said: “The entire team has worked hard to establish our position as one of the leading UK mid-market challenger law firms. Our decision to list on the London Stock Exchange will provide us with the most resilient and stable platform to support our ambitious growth plans long into the future.

“The UK legal services market is the second largest in the world and we believe the Keystone model is well placed to take advantage of this significant opportunity. ”

Squire Patton Boggs corporate partner Adam Hastings is serving as legal adviser to Keystone Law on the IPO.
Keystone Law Keystone Law, which was established in 2002 and converted into an Alternative Business Structure in 2013, has its roots as a virtual law firm, with its lawyers using technology to work from their own offices or homes before opening a string of offices across the UK as well as the Channel Islands and Australia.

In 2014 private equity firm Root Capital injected £3.15m into the business, with the firm subsequently achieving annual revenue growth of more than 20%. Turnover in 2016-17 stood at £26m.

NYC

Clifford Chance New York partner Ed O’Callaghan departs

Clifford Chance New York white collar partner Ed O’Callaghan has left the firm to join the US Department of Justice.

O’Callaghan started his new role – as principal deputy assistant attorney general – today (13 November) in the DOJ’s National Security Division. He will responsible for helping to shape US national security and enforcement priorities.

He exits after six years, having joined in 2011 as a partner in the firm’s government investigations and white collar criminal defence practice.

Previously, O’Callaghan worked for US firm Nixon Peabody for just over two and half years, where he headed up the firm’s government investigations and white collar defence group.

Before that, he worked for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he was co-chief of the terrorism and national security unit.

During his time with CC, he represented senior executives and officials of JP Morgan in connection with $6.2bn (£4.7bn) of trading losses in 2012; O’Callaghan acted for Achilles Macris, who was head of the London branch of JP Morgan’s chief investment office, where the trader nicknamed the “London Whale,” Bruno Iksil, worked.

He also acted for former top FIFA official Jeffrey Webb who was arrested for corruption charges in 2015. Webb, who pleaded guilty later that year, was among several officials arrested in 2015 on corruption charges following an inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

In addition, he helped secure a major win in Washington, DC for Dutch aerospace firm Fokker Services in 2014 in a case relating to alleged US sanctions violations.

A CC press spokesperson said: “Although he will be missed by our firm, this is a great opportunity for Ed as he returns to government service…We want to thank Ed for his many substantive contributions to our firm, notably in connection with high-profile global investigations.”

Freshfields and Slaughters advising on the merger of energy giants

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Slaughter and May are advising on the merger of energy giants Npower and SSE’s domestic retail operations.

The deal will create a new independent British retail energy company, listed on the London Stock Exchange. Npower parent company Innogy will own 34.4%, with SSE shareholders holding the other 65.6%.

Freshfields, which was appointed to SSE’s inaugural legal panel in 2014, is advising the Scotland-based company with a team led by London corporate partner Simon Marchant, alongside fellow corporate partners Julian Pritchard and Andrew Craig, and competition partners Deidre Trapp and  James Aitken.

Slaughters and Hengeler Mueller are advising Innogy, working with the Germany company’s in-house legal team.

Slaughters corporate partners Richard Smith and Tim Boxell are leading the magic circle firm’s team alongside competition partner Lisa Wright, financing partner Ed Fife and pensions and employment partners Charles Cameron, Padraig Cronin and Daniel Schaffer.

The Slaughters team also includes intellectual property partner Rob Sumroy, tax partner Gareth Miles and financial regulation partner Nick Bonsall, while the Hengeler team is being led by corporate partners Andreas Austmann and Thomas Meurer.

Innogy’s in-house team includes Innogy GC Claudia Mayfeld, head of legal M&A Tobias Bage and head of legal antitrust and energy Malte Abel.

Other firms appointed to SSE’s panel in 2014 alongside Freshfields included Addleshaw Goddard, Osborne Clarke, CMS and Kennedys.

In 2015, Freshfields’ Trapp advised SSE over market reforms following a damning report by the Competition and Markets Authority, which found that energy companies were overcharging customers who failed to switch suppliers.

Appleby defends business model in leaked documents probe

Offshore giant Appleby has admitted that some of its clients’ data was “compromised” in a data security incident last year, but insists its practices and clients’ businesses are legitimate.

The fourth largest offshore law firm Appleby has come under the spotlight as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) launched an investigation into the business of the firm’s clients via leaked documents.

The ICIJ enquiries come following a data security breach in the Bermuda-based firm’s IT system in 2016 and concern the firm’s business and the activities conducted by some of its clients.

It is reported that a number of media organisations are preparing to release details of the leaks over the coming days.

Appleby issued a statement last night in response to the ICIJ allegations, although it did not specify what the allegations were.

“These enquiries have arisen from documents that journalists claim to have seen and involve allegations made against our business and the business conducted by some of our clients,” said the firm.

The firm said it took any allegation of wrongdoing “extremely seriously”, and found “there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients” having investigated the allegations itself.

“We are a law firm which advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business. We do not tolerate illegal behaviour,” said the statement.

“It is true that we are not infallible. Where we find that mistakes have happened we act quickly to put things right and we make the necessary notifications to the relevant authorities.”

In light of intensifying scrutiny on law firms’ cyber security and data protection systems, Appleby added that: “We are committed to protecting our clients’ data and we have reviewed our cyber security and data access arrangements following a data security incident last year which involved some of our data being compromised. These arrangements were reviewed and tested by a leading IT forensics team and we are confident that our data integrity is secure.”

The firm expressed the view that it was “disappointed” that the media may choose to publish material “obtained illegally” and said this may result in “exposing innocent parties to data protection breaches”.

“Having researched the ICIJ’s allegations we believe they are unfounded and based on a lack of understanding of the legitimate and lawful structures used in the offshore sector,” it concluded.

According to The Lawyer’s 2017 Offshore Top 30 report, Appleby is the fourth largest offshore law firm by number of lawyers. In 2016, it had 464 staff, including 223 fee-earners, 60 of whom are partners.

The firm has adjusted to being a stand­alone law firm following the disposal of its fiduciary business in December 2015. Following the sale, Michael O’Connell was re-elected to managing partner in January 2016 for a three-year term.

Bryan Cave and Proskauer increase London promotions for 2017

Bryan Cave and Proskauer Rose have promoted one and three lawyers to partner respectively in London.

Bryan Cave has made up corporate lawyer Andrew Hart, who joined the firm from legacy Finers Stephens Innocent in 2008.

After three years, Hart left to become a senior associate at Clayton Utz in Australia. He returned to Bryan Cave’s London office in 2013.

Hart is one of 13 lawyers promoted to Bryan Cave’s partnership this year. The other promotions are across the firm’s US offices.

Bryan Cave’s partner announcements comes at an important time for the firm, as it continues its merger talks with UK-headquartered Berwin Leighton Paisner.

The firm has not promoted a London lawyer since 2014, when commercial litigator Robert Dougans was made up.

Meanwhile, Proskauer Rose has announced a global promotions round of 14, with three making the cut in the City.

Funds lawyers Edward Lee and Andrew Shore have been made partner, along with corporate lawyer Liam Arthur.

Proskauer Rose last made a promotion in London two years ago when funds and tax partner Catherine Sear was elected.

Partner promotions in full

Bryan Cave

Andrew Hart, London, corporate
Kenneth Achenbach, Atlanta, regulatory
Amy Taylor Wilson, Atlanta, corporate
Karl Marschel, Chicago, real estate
Amy Simpson, Dallas, real estate
Desmonne Bennett, Denver, litigation
Julie Westcott O’Dell, Irvine, employment
Kamao Shaw, Irvine, finance
Alexander Walden, New York, IP
Jessica Edwards, St Louis, tax
Stefan Mallen St Louis, litigation
Michael Schwartz, St Louis, corporate
Megan Gajewski Barnhill, Washington, regulatory

Proskauer Rose

Camille Higonnet, Boston, funds
Matthew McBride, Boston private equity
Ehud Barak, New York, restructuring
Frank Saviano, New York, corporate
Chantel Febus, New York, investigations
Malcolm Hochenberg, New York, tax
Vincent Indelicato, New York, restructuring
Christopher Ahn, LA, corporate
Christopher Wu, LA< corporate

Liam Arthur, London, corporate
Edward Lee, London, funds
Andrew Shore, London, funds

Cedric Jacquelet, Paris, employment
Nicolas Léger, Paris, employment

Nigerian Employment Law Review

Procedure for Terminating Contractual Employment on Grounds of Redundancy in Nigeria

In order to survive in business in the current economic downturn in Nigeria, Employers may have to terminate the employment of their redundant staff. To avoid trade union disputes, industrial actions and damages for breach of contract employment, it is important for Employers to know the proper legal procedure in terminating the employment of their Employees on grounds of redundancy.

What are the basic legislations regulating employment matters in Nigeria

The Trade Union Act, CAP T14, Laws of the Federation, 2004 (“the Trade Union Act”), the Labor Act, CAP L1, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (“the Labor Act”), Trade Disputes Act, CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (“the Trade Disputes Act”), National Industrial Court Act, No 38. Vol. 93, 2006, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and the National Industrial Court Rules, 2007.

What is the status of Collective Agreement under Nigerian Law?

Nigerian courts adopt the common law principle that Collective Agreements of Trade Unions are generally unenforceable. This is because there is no privity of contract between the Trade Union who agreed to the Collective Agreement and the Employer. In essence, the Collective Agreement is not a Contract between the Employer and its Employees. This is because the Employer did not participate in the negotiation meeting which resulted in the Collective Agreement.

Nevertheless, where the Minister of Employment, Labor and Productivity promulgates an order for a Collective Agreement to be incorporated into Employees’ Contract of Employment; or a Collective Agreement is incorporated by reference into the individual Contract of Employment of Employees; or the Employer makes reference to it in its relationship with the Employees; or adopts the provisions of the Collective Agreement in arguing its case, the Employee may validly claim rights under the Collective Agreement.

Moreover, Section 23 (1) and 23 (2) (d) of the Trade Union Act, provides that;

23 (1)”…….nothing in this subsection shall enable any court to entertain any legal proceedings instituted for the purpose of directly enforcing any agreement mentioned in subsection (2) of this section, or of recovering damages for any breach of any agreement so mentioned

23 (2) (d) “any agreement such that every party thereto is one or other of the following, that is to say, a trade union or the Federation of Trade Unions”  

The import of the above provisions is that the Courts would not enforce the provisions of a Collective Agreement on the Employers if the parties to the Agreement are Trade Unions or Federation of Trade Unions only. The Employer would have to adopt the Agreement for it to be binding on it.

What is the status of the Employee’s Union’s membership of a Federation of Trade Union?  

Section 3 of the Trade Union Act provides that at least 50 members of the Union shall apply to register a trade union. Some labor law scholars contend that the right to organize Union activities in Nigeria does not extend to workers of companies of less than 50 persons.

Therefore the legality of Employees’ Union activities and resolutions reached in their meetings is in serious doubt if its members are currently less than 50 members

What is the notice period for termination of employment on grounds of redundancy?

The Employer would rely on the period of notice stated in the Contract of Employment, Collection Agreement or other rules and regulations incorporated to the Contract of Employment or the Internal Conditions of Service of the Company or pay the salary of the Employees in lieu of notice.

If none of the above documents provides for termination notice, the Employer would have to rely on the provisions of Section 11 (2) of the Labor Act which provides that the Employee will be entitled to;

  • (i) 1 day notice, where the contract has continued for a period of 3 months or less;
  • (ii) 1 week notice, where the contract has continued for more than 3 months but less than 2 years;
  • (iii) 2 weeks’ notice, where the contract has continued for a period of 2 years but less than 5 years; and
  • (iv) 1 month notice, where the contract has continued for 5 years or more.

What are the reasons for termination of the employment of the Employees to be stated on the Termination Notice?

The Nigerian labor law acknowledges that an Employer reserves the right to pay off any Employee whether on the basis of redundancy, idleness etc. or at the end of a project where the Employee is engaged.

Section 20 (1) of the Labor Act provides that the Employer shall inform the trade union or workers’ representative concerned reasons for and the extent of the anticipated redundancy. Section 20 (3) of the Labor Act defines “redundancy as an involuntary and permanent loss of employment caused by an excess of manpower

Though the definition of excess of manpower is not stated in the Labor Act, the Courts have considered the acquisition of a company, restructuring, reduction of production line, shortage of raw materials, economic and technological reasons as valid grounds for declaring redundancy. An Employee has no right not to be declared redundant in line with the terms of his employment or Collective Agreement which is applicable to him.

What are the criteria for computing the severance package upon termination of employment on grounds of redundancy?

Section 20 (1) (c) of the Labor Act provides that the Employer shall use its best endeavors to negotiate redundancy payments to workers who are not covered by the Minister’s regulations on the subject matter. Since the Minister has not promulgated these regulations, the Employer would be bound to compute the benefits of the Employees based on the provisions of the individual Contract of Employment of the Employees, the rules and regulations or any Collective Agreement and the provisions of its Internal Conditions of Service (“the relevant documents”).

Nevertheless, to show its good faith and best endeavor, the Company may at its sole discretion, meet with representative of the Employees to agree on other customary heads of claims and allowances not mentioned in the relevant documents. The Termination notice must clearly list the severance benefits of the individual Employee. Since each Contract of Employment constitutes a distinct course of action, the Company must give each Employee his Termination notice.

MILAN

DWF opens sixth office this year in Italy

DWF has opened its sixth office this year – this time hiring a three-partner team in Italy.

Three partners from Pavia e Ansaldo are joining DWF for the launch in Milan, along with 13 lawyers.

Corporate finance partner Michele Cicchetti will become managing partner of DWF’s Italian operations, joining alongside tax partner Tancredi Marino and M&A partner Luca Cuomo.

Real estate associate Daniele Zanni will also be joining the team as a partner.

DWF has launched six offices this year, including two new operations in Continental Europe. The firm opened in Berlin in March after hiring two lawyers from DLA Piper. It also launched its first office in France through a merger with four-partner Paris firm Heenan Paris.

In the Asia Pacific region, DWF also launched two offices in Melbourne and Brisbane through a combination with independent firm MVM Legal. DWF further opened in Singapore after hiring from Eversheds Sutherland’s practice.

As well as office launches, DWF has agreed several new associations with local firms. DWF announced an association with Saudi Arabian firm Harasani & Alkhamees in February, giving it offices in Riyadh and Jeddah.

There were a further trio of associations in South America, as DWF entered into a non-exclusive best friends arrangement with Vagedes & Associados in Argentina, Fabrega Molino in Panama and Duarte Garcia Abogados in Colombia.

MILAN

HSF to launch in Milan with Simmons hire

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) is set to open an office in Milan next year with the hire of Simmons & Simmons Italy dispute resolution and intellectual property head Laura Orlando.

The base, which is due to open in early 2018, will be HSF’s first in Italy and its tenth office in Europe.

Orlando (pictured) joined Simmons in 2010 from local firm Trevisan & Cuonzo, becoming partner in 2014. She specialises in contentious and non-contentious IP, with a focus on patent and regulatory law in the life sciences sector.

According to Simmons’ website, her exit will leave the UK firm without another IP partner in Italy and with one disputes partner. Simmons will not immediately replace her in her management roles.

Two associates and one trainee will join HSF alongside Orlando, with the departures leaving Simmons with 30 associates and 10 partners in its wider Milan office. The firm previously closed in Rome in January 2016 to focus its efforts on Milan.

HSF head of UK and US disputes and global head of intellectual property Mark Shillito said: “We decided to start with a specialist IP offering in Milan because there is a clear client demand for it. One of our big areas is pan-European patent litigation, so for the past few years we’ve been thinking about how best to add to a pan-European offering. Laura is someone we’ve worked with for joint clients and referral matters for the last few years and we think she’s the best in the market.”

He added: “London will increasingly support the new office on pan-European work and we expect it to be a busy and profitable part of the practice. At the moment we’re not planning to open in any other practice areas [in Milan] but we are optimistic about future growth.”

HSF chief executive Mark Rigotti added: “We were one of the few international firms of our scale not to have an office in Italy, so it’s always been something we’ve kept under consideration. There are also a lot of strong local firms there, so we had to consider what we could add that wasn’t already there. Why go into a crowded market unless you can stand out?”

The new office is the second launch announced by HSF this year after confirming plans to open in Kuala Lumpur in May, marking the firm’s ninth base in Asia.

 

BLP and Bryan Cave have entered into preliminary merger negotiations

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and Bryan Cave have entered into preliminary merger negotiations.

BLP managing partner Lisa Mayhew said: “Our two firms share a strong commitment to innovation in the interests of our clients. We also have an unusually strong cultural fit with a mutual focus on collaboration across our businesses in the interests of deep and lasting client relationships. It is encouraging for the potential firm that BLP and Bryan Cave both have this complementary heritage, but crucially also share the same ambitions for the future.”

Bryan Cave chair Therese Pritchard said: “If we combine we will operate without regard to geographic boundaries. Our firm would be one of only a handful of global firms operating in a one-firm structure with more than 500 lawyers in both the US and also internationally. We will seamlessly provide counsel to clients across the globe, deliver client service at a new level and use technology and innovation to redefine efficiency in the practice of law.”

A merger would create a firm of around 582 partners and $989.5m (£744m) in annual turnover, and would gift BLP with an additional 13 partners in London. The firm would have 32 offices in 12 countries and a platform of 1,200 lawyers.