Ashurst Morris Crisp's Italian e-alliance firm Studio Legale Sutti has agreed a merger with the Serbian firm which is heavily involved in the defence of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes.
Sutti, which has offices in London and Tokyo, has just signed a memorandum of understanding with the leading Belgrade firm, called Fila. The merger will become fully operational in November. It will see Fila's five partners and 10 other lawyers incorporated into Sutti. Fila's founder and senior partner Toma Fila is leading the firm's involvement in the defence of Milosevic. Fila has been attached to the former president since he appealed against his conviction for stealing state funds in April this year. The relationship is thought to go back further. Sutti senior partner Stefano Sutti said that Fila's involvement in the Milosevic proceedings has slightly slowed down the merger talks. "The Milosevic proceedings have taken up 75-80 per cent of Fila's resources," he said. Fila is expected to retire when the Milosevic proceedings are over. Sutti said: "We hope to have Mr Fila on board for as long as possible. He is a very prestigious partner to have. We don't expect the Milosevic proceedings to end soon." Sutti, too, has acted for some controversial clients, including former Nazi SS captain Erich Priebke. "Our corporate clients are not in the least bit disturbed," said Sutti. "In Italy, Mr Fila has obtained media visibility because of the Milosevic affair. Although it's politically sensitive, in a way this is very good for our new joint practice." Sutti's relationship with Ashursts was set up last year and focuses on e-commerce.