Cheltenham firm BPE has formed a timely but unusual link-up with a firm in Estonia, the country that played host to last Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest
Sixteen-partner BPE has formed an exclusive alliance with local firm Heta, with which it shares a number of clients. It is believed to be the first UK firm to form an alliance with an Estonian firm. "Estonia is the UK's fifth-largest trading partner in terms of volume of import and export. Estonia has a very special place in its heart for the UK. We have a number of clients, particularly in the timber industry, who trade with Estonia," said BPE partner John Beevor. According to Beevor, the link-up is particularly relevant to BPE client Timber Trade Federation, the members of which import a lot of timber from the Baltic. Beevor also explained that many commercial contracts in Estonia are governed by English law and Estonian commercial disputes are often subject to English law in international arbitrations. Estonia is preparing for EU accession and Morgan Stanley is reported to be moving into the region. BPE and Heta have worked together for six years, since BPE began to represent English clients in Estonia. The two firms already have an exchange programme for their lawyers. BPE and Heta are planning to create a joint presence in Latvia and Lithuania. Beevor is also Estonia's honorary consul to the UK. He received the appointment on the back of setting up rotary clubs in Estonia - which were illegal under the Soviet State - when the country gained independence from Russia.