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In a damning move, Dutch national airline KLM has severed its ties with chief adviser De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek over advice given by partner Pierre Nijnen on its alliance with Alitalia
As first revealed on www.thelawyer.com/lawyernews (29 January), KLM said that it had ended a 10-year relationship with Nijnen as its "house lawyer" because it was not advised to take a provision to cover any claim from Alitalia for breaking off the alliance.
On 5 December last year, a Dutch arbitration tribunal ruled that KLM would have to pay 150m (£98.1m) to Alitalia for tearing up the alliance on 28 April 2000.
KLM was put off by delays related to the Italian company's privatisation and difficulties with the launch of its new hub at Milan Malpensa Airport.
However, judges at the arbitration court last year found that KLM's termination of the agreement was not valid. Alitalia's claim for damages of 250m (£163.5m) plus interest was granted. The tribunal also accepted KLM's claim that Alitalia should repay 100m (£65.4m) plus interest that the Dutch airline had paid towards Malpensa development costs.
Earlier this week, De Brauw looked set to face court action over its advice, but KLM has now said that it will not sue.
The airline is now looking for new advisers and plans to put together a panel of legal specialists instead of relying on one firm. A spokesperson said the company did not entirely rule out using other lawyers at De Brauw, but would be looking further afield.
A spokesperson for De Brauw said the firm stood by Nijnen and hoped it could serve KLM again in the future.