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Clifford Chance is winding down part of its highly-rated international trade practice in the wake of the retirement of its key trade practitioners
Following the retirement of Brussels-based trade partner Keith Hendry, the firm will handle fewer anti-dumping cases because it will no longer be cost-effective to do the work. Instead the firm will concentrate on what it perceives to be the more profitable areas of customs and World Trade Organization (WTO) litigation work. Hendry retired on 2 May and while trade and competition partner Charles Van Sasse will take over some of his role, Clifford Chance will not replace Hendry directly. The developments in the European practice mirror those in the US where trade and WTO lawyer Bill Silverman retired without a replacement last April. One Clifford Chance competition partner said: "We're not giving up on trade, it's just that there's fewer and fewer anti-dumping cases directed against clients who can afford our higher rates. Japanese actions in particular have fallen off." Firms such as Van Bael & Bellis, Vermulst Waer & Verhaeghe and Hammond Suddards Edge handle some big-ticket trade work, but are also first choice for high volume work from Asian countries because they are extremely competitive on fees. The change of climate has hit Clifford Chance particularly hard, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is relocating senior associate Christian Pitschas from Berlin to Brussels to handle the caseload of anti-dumping work.