Bar approves 7 Bedford Row-BakerPlatt venture

A unique alliance has been launched between common law and criminal set 7 Bedford Row and a Jersey-based law firm and consultancy practice specialising in financial crime and regulatory work.

The alliance is with BakerPlatt Group, which comprises law firm Baker Associates and consultancy firm Finance Sector Compliance Advisers. The Bar Council spent about three months considering the proposed alliance before giving its approval last week.

The arrangement is believed to be the first of its kind. 7 Bedford Row, headed by David Farrer QC, will be able to market itself in conjunction with an overseas regulatory specialist as an expert adviser in a raft of matters including money laundering, anti-terrorism, financial services and serious crime.

The new venture is emblematic of the growing importance chambers attach to international work.

Prior to the alliance, the set and BakerPlatt were instructed jointly by a foreign non-European government to advise it on improving its legal and regulatory regimes, as well as several Jersey matters.

BakerPlatt hopes to save money by using 7 Bedford Row’s counsel as advocates in jurisdictions that they operate in.

Besides the Channel Islands, where advocates have to be admitted to the local bar to appear in court, BakerPlatt operates in Hong Kong, the Isle of Man, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.

Certainly, tenants of chambers are likely to offer a more economic alternative to local or English lawyers specialising in offshore work.

Jersey rules do not allow Baker Associates, BakerPlatt’s law firm, to operate as a partnership because only one of its two lawyers, Stephen Baker, a former Jersey prosecutor at its Attorney General’s office, is Jersey law-qualified.

The other lawyer, Stephen Platt, is qualified as an English barrister, although his career has been spent mostly advising the private and public sectors on regulatory matters and serious crime.

BakerPlatt’s consultancy arm, which has six staff, is drawing up guidance notes for Jersey’s equivalent of England’s Financial Services Authority on anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism.