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KPMG legal consultancy arm coming to UK

PMG is to set up a legal consultancy arm in the UK, the ‘Big Four’ professional services firm revealed, as it reported strong growth in its global legal services business.

The legal consultancy is expected to launch in the next few months, though the firm has not yet disclosed further details.

This is but the latest signal of intent from the ‘Big Four’ and follows last month’s news that rival firm Deloitte has hired a former magic circle partner to lead its UK legal arm.

KPMG’s UK consulting arm will be part of the Legal Operations & Transformation Services (LOTS) offering, which KPMG says helps in-house counsel identify ‘technologies, flexible resources and managed services that can support delivery of legal services’.

In a separate announcement this morningm, KPMG said ‘rising demands’ for legal services had resulted in revenue growth for its global legal services arm of more than 30%. The practice now has more than 2,300 legal professionals worldwide, including more than 20 new partners added during 2018, it added.

Jürg Birri, KPMG’s global head of legal services, said: ‘Our approach is different. We’re not a traditional law firm, and we’re not copying the approach of a traditional law firm. We focus on offering our clients integrated legal advice and technology-led solutions and methodologies, in combination with a range of alternative legal managed services.’

He added: ‘We expect continued growth in 2019 as we eagerly meet the evolving needs of clients across the globe. Increasingly, our clients are being asked to implement business transformation programmes that need an integrated approach that combines business and legal methodologies, not just pure legal advice. We understand this and are able to deliver.’

In January, the Gazette reported on the opening of a KPMG affiliated legal practice in Hong Kong. An associated Shanghai office is expected to follow later this year.

UK Supreme Court rules Zambian citizens can sue mining company

The UK Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that citizens of Zambia may sue a mining company in the UK.

The case arises out of a claim by Zambian citizens against Vedanta Resources PLC, which is a company in the UUK that is the parent company of Konkola Copper Mines PLC. The latter company is the owner of the Nchanga Copper Mine in Zambia. The Zambian citizens “allege that their health and farming activities have been damaged by the discharge of toxic matter from the Mine into those waterways from 2005 onwards.”

The decision speaks to “the jurisdiction of the English courts in relation to a group tort claim.” In coming to its decision, the UK Supreme Court found that while Zambia “would plainly have been the proper place for this litigation as a whole,” the issue of access to substantial justice would allow the claim to be brought in England. The UK Supreme Court pointed out two key issues. First, it noted that funding the group claim in Zambia would be difficult because “the claimants are all in extreme poverty, because they could not obtain legal aid and because conditional fee agreements (CFAs) are unlawful in Zambia.” Second, it noted that there was an absence in Zambia of “sufficiently substantial and suitably experienced legal teams” to handle this case, especially because their opponent has more resources.

Brexit Hits UK Law Firms in South Korea

The five U.K. firms present in Seoul—Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills, Linklaters, Stephenson Harwood and Allen & Overy—will have to either re-register their office licenses or close their offices, at least temporarily.

A group of U.K.-based law firms in South Korea are anxious about the future of their offices in Seoul, as a no-deal Brexit could force them to close their offices temporarily.