Eversheds joins trend with Orchard capture; future of legal aid work uncertain
Eversheds hire ramps up corporate crime group" />Eversheds has taken on a partner from Orchard, joining the growing throng of firms strengthening their corporate crime capabilities.
Fraud partner Gerallt Owen is joining the firm to bolster its criminal cartels and other corporate crime expertise.
The move is part of a trend that, over the past 18 months, has seen law firms bring partners with criminal experience in-house, or consolidating alliances with independent corporate crime practices.
Last year, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer launched a corporate crime panel of four leading white collar criminal practices. At the same time, Herbert Smith and DLA recruited partners and lawyers from regulatory agencies, including the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Competition Commission.
Owen will provide criminal expertise for Eversheds’ existing inquiries and investigations unit and for various other departments which deal with regulators, such as the FSA, the Health and Safety Executive and the Inland Revenue.
Crucially, his experience in fraud and criminal cartel work will also plug a hole in the firm’s London practice.
Eversheds’ Cardiff head of litigation Jonathan Richards said: “What Gerallt brings is a different dimension to our existing practice.”
Criminal experience is becoming more important in cartel investigations following the introduction of the Enterprise Act last year, which brought in criminal sanctions for directors involved in cartels.
It is unclear what will happen to Owen’s legal aid fraud practice. Increasingly, company directors are covered by legal insurance, but a significant number of defendants are still being provided with legal aid.
Richards said: “Our existing practice is not run on legal aid. This would have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis as it arises.”