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Gateley has sealed a deal with global insurer ACE Group to create a legal advice service for businesses and senior directors and officers (D&O).
The firm’s employment team will provide a free legal helpline in a bid to cut costs and time managing claims by preventing them from developing.
Lawyers will advise on staff disputes and people-related issues, as well as D&O regulation. These include claims of wrongdoing from shareholders, employees, competitor companies and the Government.
The deal is a coup for Gateley after its turnover slipped in 2011-12 to £61.5m, down from £64.5m in 2010-11, although that latter figure was attributable to the acquisition of a big chunk of failed firm Halliwells.
It will boost the profile of Gateley’s new Manchester office, which will carry out the employment side, with the Birmingham office working on the regulatory aspect.
Gateley solicitors will staff the helplines and there will be around 15 people on the team across both offices, with the potential for growth.
Gateley operates legal helplines for other clients, but this will be its biggest deal as it will involve advising a number of companies through the ACE Group. That said, it is unclear at this stage how the deal will impact on the firm financially.
Gateley employment partner Sarah Garth said: “UK employment law has become increasingly complex. The number of Employment Tribunal claims has risen by 60 per cent over the last six years alone.
“This affects companies of all sizes and Gateley offers the expertise and insight to help businesses limit their risk exposure and reduce claims.”
Simon Million, UK and Ireland D&O manager for ACE, said: “ACE believes prevention is better than cure. By providing concise and practical guidance on day-to-day legal issues, our helpline offers clients proactive support in advance of any claim.
“The service is designed to help our clients better mitigate disputes and manage the often significant expense of defending claims. Uniquely, all advice given is non-obligatory, so it is up to the client whether or not they choose to implement it.”