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CMS Cameron McKenna has derailed Linklaters & Alliance as the Government's main adviser on Railtrack.
Camerons has been chosen as the main legal adviser to assist the government in its wind-up of the company. Linklaters advised the then Department of Transport (DoT) on the stock market flotation of Railtrack. And although the Gover-nment faces a host of class actions from disgruntled Railtrack shareholders, Linklaters has been shunted into the minor role of advising the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). According to a source close to Railtrack, Linklaters was the main and traditional adviser to the DoT. Camerons is now the main adviser to the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions on Railtrack, a position equivalent to that enjoyed by Linklaters in 1996. Banking partner John White and projects partner Robert Phillips are leading the team jointly. Linklaters official statement is that it has "been retained as long-term adviser to the strategic setting up of Railtrack's successor". According to a Camerons spokesperson, Linklaters is advising the SRA, a government body set up in February 2001, which aims to provide strategic direction to the UK's railways. As main adviser, Camerons held a special sitting of the High Court in its head office on 7 October, where Mr Justice Lightman made the Railway Administration Order. Linklaters was not present. One Camerons spokesperson said: "The SRA was at the hearing on Sunday, but Linklaters did not have to be present, as the SRA just had to complete a minor formality." Other City firms confirmed to have a major role in the administration of Railtrack are Allen & Overy (A&O), Simmons & Simm-ons and Slaughter and May. Slaughters has been instructed by Railtrack's administrator Ernst & Young. Partner Jonathan Rushworth, who is still working on the Barings insolvency for Ernst & Young, is leading the team. Slaughters was little known for insolvency work until Ernst & Young instructed Rushworth on Barings. The two also acted together on the administration on Equatorial Bank and on British & Common-wealth. Lawyers from other firms involved in the deal have expressed surprise that Slaughters, more known for corporate work, has received the instruction. According to one source, Slaughters was not Ernst & Young's first choice on Railtrack. But Rushworth dismisses this idea. "The firm works with all the big five accountants on a regular basis, and we're known for our administration work," he said. A&O is acting for more than 20 per cent of Railtrack's investment funds and individual shareholders with a team led by litigation partner Andrew Clark. The clients include Fidelity Investments, Invesco Perpetual and Franklin Mutual. Financial litigation firm Class Law is preparing to act for Railtrack's 250,000 small shareholders. Partner Stephen Alexander is organising a shareholders' meeting, which is set to take place this week. The firm has not launched any action as yet. According to Alexander, if litigation starts, UBS Warburg, which was heavily involved in the original listing of Railtrack, will be a defendant. As The Lawyer went to press, the bank had not established whether it was seeking outside legal advice.