Dentons has been referring work to Tumi since 2007, but its clients and associate firms elsewhere in Africa were key to the decision to formalise the relationship.
Howard Barrie, joint director of the African practice at Dentons, said: “The Libyan regime is keen on economic reform and building up infrastructure. The oil majors are doing a lot of work in-house, but there’s a huge amount of building and development work and clients who are looking for concessions [in these sectors require advice].
“As you might imagine, for an English firm we started off focusing on Anglophone jurisdictions [in Africa]. Part of my role’s been to help encourage the spread out into the Maghreb.”
Barrie confirmed that Dentons’ other African network firms were supportive of the move because of the prospective work stemming from Libyan outward investment into their respective jurisdictions.
Isolation from the international community and barriers to investment have historically meant that very few global firms have done business in Libya.
However, Clyde & Co partner Paul Turner now handles defamation issues for the country’s leader Colonel Gaddafi, while Italian firm P&A Legal was recently granted regulatory approval to open an office in the capital Tripoli (The Lawyer, 2 November 2009).