Grapevine

OFT lure proves too strong for would-be Wilmer lawyer

It seems that Philip Collins’ route to the chairmanship of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) was not as direct as it initially appeared.

It seems that Collins arranged to leave Lovells’ Brussels office back in January for US regulatory firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. But just one week after Collins signed on the dotted line with Wilmer Cutler, the OFT told him he had an interview for the chair’s job.

Once he’d landed it, he had to extricate himself from his arrangements with Wilmer Cutler. Fortunately, the US firm was pretty cooperative and Collins will work in the firm’s Brussels office before he goes off to join the OFT.

Aside from the fact that it is not clever to antagonise the second most important man at the OFT (the top job of chief executive has yet to be filled), Wilmer Cutler has a history of supporting ‘revolving door’ regulatory appointments, often taking on ex-regulators itself.

So Collins, who will supplement the part-time OFT role with Brussels-based academic work, will be free to join the great and the good in October.

£5K small claims cap hits public health, lawyers’ wealth

If the Government has its way, personal injury (PI) solicitors could soon find themselves on the scrapheap. Or that’s what the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) fears, at any rate. Apil commissioned survey king Mori to ask members of the public what they would do if proposals to raise the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 are implemented.

Not surprisingly, 64 per cent of respondents said they would not pursue a case without advice from a solicitor. Given the fact that in the small claims court no legal aid is available and costs are not recoverable, the likelihood is that many will simply not bother to pursue a claim.

Apil president Colin Ettinger argues that the small claims court is not for complex and costly PI cases, but rather for “claiming back money on a faulty fridge.”

There is a valid debate to be had about the impact these proposals could have on access to justice, but this debate must also not ignore the impact reform will have on the livelihoods of hundreds of claimant PI lawyers – which may just colour their perspective on the issue.

Watson Farley: don’t pick us, we’ll pick you

Watson Farley & Williams has become the latest firm to poke its head above the parapet by admitting that it would not shy away from accepting an instruction to sue the UK’s leading banks. Indeed, The Lawyer can reveal that Watson Farley is already in the midst of advising a client on a dispute against one of the UK’s top five clearing banks.

In the past Watson Farley has also sued a major US investment bank. That’s fine and dandy. But how can Watson Farley reconcile such a strategy with its ambition to build a leading finance practice? The firm’s response to this conundrum is simple: cherry pick the banks it wants to have relationships with, such as JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland and Société Générale. And hang the rest?

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