The Commercial Law Affiliates (CLA) alliance is in chaos as it fails to meet its deadline to decide on a new UK member.
CLA has been seeking a new UK member since Hammond Suddards Edge pulled out a year ago over the speed of integration. It is understood that Taylor Joynson Garrett was offered membership, but the City firm turned down the offer and is believed to be in talks with an alternative German firm. Taylor Joynson managing partner Gary Moss refused to comment on any merger plans. "We're not currently negotiating with CLA. We talk to a number of firms from time to time and have a number of relationships in Germany," he said. In the last year, CLA is believed to have talked to several UK firms, including Nabarro Nathanson, Barlow Lyde & Gilbert. However, despite the 30 November deadline, it has become clear that the decision process will carry on into the New Year. Adding to the confusion is the uncertainty over the German member of CLA. In October, the Frankfurt office of German member Knauthe Paul Schmitt split from the firm and announced a merger with the Frankfurt office of Osborne Clarke's former German ally Graf von Westphalen Fritze & Modest. At the end of the month, the two Frankfurt offices entered merger negotiations with German firm Seelig & Preu Bohlig. These talks have fallen through, but a new firm incorporating the Knauthe and Graf von Westphalen Frankfurt offices will come into effect on 1 January next year. The new firm has applied for membership of the CLA alliance. However, it is understood that the remaining offices of Knauthe in Munich and Berlin are also keen to stick with the network. CLA managing director Michael Faulkner declined to comment on Taylor Joynson, but did say: "We're talking to two firms in London and expect to come to a decision in the New Year. I can confirm the application of the new German firm in Frankfurt, but we haven't yet decided whether or not we can have two German members." In April, Italian firm Tonucci became the fourth firm to pull out of the alliance, when it suspended its membership with CLA Europe. Dutch firm Kennedy Van der Laan and Swedish firm Gedda & Ekdahl also pulled out last year.