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AN ATLAS containing a series of world financial law maps could save banks millions of pounds, according to the man who drew up the maps, Allen & Overy head of banking Philip Wood.
The book, Maps of World Financial Law, published by allen & Overy, shows the differing attitudes of countries around the world to creditors, debtors, trusts and security.
Wood said each of the atlas's five maps took him at least a year to research and one on global netting took 10 years.
He has used them in lectures at the University of London and in presentations and beauty parades for banking clients to show the problems of international transactions.
Wood said: "The reaction seems quite good and on the whole clients, instead of preferring our finely crafted and elegantly expressed legal opinions and treatises, appear to prefer pictures."
He claimed that the map on global netting was "probably worth about £5m in legal advice".
"If a bank is doing a derivatives deal around the world it will want to know if its exposures are gross or net in each jurisdiction," explained Wood. "The map gives them an idea and they may decide not to do the deal as a result. It can save a company millions."
He said many of the differences in financial law stemmed from whether countries put the emphasis on debtor or creditor protection in the event of a bankruptcy.
The biggest difference was between France and England, with English law strongly pro creditor and French law strongly pro debtor.
Wood said he hoped the maps would highlight the need for harmonisation of financial laws around the world.
He added: "We have come a long way in financial law but not nearly far enough...There are too many restrictive legal policies in the world, too much complication, too much inertia and too much prejudice.
"These lead not just to inefficiency and pointless cost: they also lead to injustice."