Eversheds’ alliance partner in South Africa is embroiled in a legal row with the local Law Society that could have implications for all international firms looking to rebrand associated offices in the country.
Routledge Modise has been part of Eversheds International since 2008 and changed its name to Eversheds in July 2009. However, the Law Society has argued that dropping reference to the local partners contravenes both the Attorneys Act and its own rules, and has ordered a name reversal.
The firm’s South Africa chairman Terry Mahon has opposed this on the grounds that it is “anticompetitive”.
He said: “International law firms either have small South African offices trading under global brands and are not registered with the local Law Society, or they provide services in South Africa by sending in ad hoc professionals on a matter-by-matter basis. They often have a competitive advantage when pitching for business in spite of their fairly limited local resources.”
As a result, his office has filed a complaint with the Competition Commission and he believes this could end up in litigation.
The South African row comes as the UK-based firm is pushing its international network members either to bring Eversheds to the front of their name or drop the local firm’s name altogether.
hen the international firms joined the network they were originally branded with their names first followed by Eversheds.
Eversheds head of international Stephen Hopkins said: “Eversheds’ strategy is that we have a single brand and a single way of delivering our service.”