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WELSH giant Hugh James is to merge with the Exeter-based firm Ford Simey Daw Roberts in response to changes in the insurance sector.Ford Simey head of insurance Paul Derbyshire says: "The move is insurance-driven. We had been working alongside each other on the Commercial Union panel, and have the same litigation philosophy."The new 57-partner firm, Hugh James Ford Simey, will be operational on 1 May.The two firms will share more than 30 insurers, including merged insurers Commercial Union and General Accident (CGU), Royal & SunAlliance and Prudential.Derbyshire says: "As insurers get bigger and merge they, reduce the number of solicitors on their panels."We feel the way forward isn't so much to have a national practice, but to have a strong regional practice."Gareth Williams, insurance partner at Hugh James, comments: "The insurance industry has undergone maj-or change in recent years through consolidation and mergers."Our clients are looking to firms which can provide coverage over a wide geographical area."The merged firm will be the only practice which provides a comprehensive service for the whole of South Wales and the West Country."Hugh James is Wales' top litigation firm, with 40 partners and eight offices in south Wales and Bristol. Ford Simey has 17 partners and three offices in the South West.
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