Axa embarks on search for its first global panel

Insurance giant Axa launched a search for firms for its first-ever formal global panel, becoming one of a small number of French companies to follow Anglo-Saxon methods of instructing lawyers.

Global general counsel George Stansfield is in the process of reviewing the advisers that Axa works with. The aim is to establish a formal panel at group level.

It is understood that the panel will include fewer than 10 law firms, which will benefit from a share of Axa’s multimillion-pound legal budget.

Until now, Axa has never used a formal worldwide legal panel, preferring instead to work on an informal basis with advisers within geographical regions.

An Axa spokesperson said: “We recognise that there are benefits to be had, and at a group level we’re investigating the practicalities of establishing a global panel.”

Law firms instructed regularly by the insurer include Bredin Prat, Clifford Chance, De Pardieu Brocas Maffei, Gide Loyrette Nouel and Shearman & Sterling in France; Cravath Swaine & Moore, Debevoise & Plimpton and LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae in the US; and Norton Rose in the UK and Asia.

Axa has been active recently in investment opportunities and was part of an Abertis-led consortium acquiring a stake in French motorway operator Sanef in December 2005.

By forming a global panel, Axa is following in the steps of a small number of French organisations rejecting the traditional contact-led method of instructing lawyers.