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Linklaters is understood to have taken over Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s role as the regulatory adviser to Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) concerning payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling, one of the biggest scandals to ever hit retail financial services.
It is a major project win for Linklaters as the first significant assignment for the retail bank. The firm is usually a go-to adviser for Lloyds’ group legal practice and in corporate matters.
The firm was also advising LBG on plans to offload 632 of its branches to the Co-operative Group (19 July 2012). Those plans were later dropped in favour of an IPO.
Both firms are longstanding advisers to LBG. Linklaters corporate partners Jeremy Parr and Matthew Bland have worked with the bank for many years, previously landing lead roles on Lloyds’ mammoth £22.5bn capital raising in 2009 (24 November 2009).
Freshfields is also a longstanding adviser to the bank. The firm took the lead role advising on the sale of a 6 per cent stake in the banking group earlier this month (13 September 2013), the first stage in the reprivatisation of the high street bank.
Freshfields led the battle against the FSA and Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) over the handling of payment protection insurance (PPI) claims for the British Bankers Association (BBA) in 2011. The High Court dismissed the application forcing the banks to compensate customers who bought the flawed insurance policy (20 April 2011).
Lloyds has since paid out more than £5.6bn in compensation to 1.5 million customers.
Sources told The Lawyer that Freshfields lost the mandate to provide regulatory advice after the bank was forced to admit ‘issues’ with its PPI complaints procedure over the summer. This came after an undercover reporter for The Times was landed a job at a Lloyds claims handling centre in London and discovered that staff had been asked to ignore possible fraud, one source suggested.
While Freshfields was not involved in any aspect of the allegations, sources suggested the mandate expired not long after the investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) began. However this was not confirmed by either LBG or Freshfields’ lead partner David Scott.
Parr declined to comment on the firm’s latest role with the bank.
LBG, Freshfields and Linklaters all declined to comment.