European Payments Council looks to CC

Clifford Chance has scooped the lead advisory role to the 7,000 European banks that have been ordered by the European Commission to develop a new integrated payments system by 2008.

The instruction by the European Payments Council, which represents the banks involved, is a major coup for the magic circle firm, which will advise on both banking and competition issues.

The project is expected to require a coordinated effort across Clifford Chance’s European offices to meet the 2008 deadline.

London-based banking and finance partner Dermot Turing is leading the banking and finance team, while Oliver Bretz will take the lead on competition issues. Clifford Chance declined to comment.

The Commission has released its proposed Directive for a New Legal Framework for Payments, which aims to provide a unified set of rules regarding the provision and use of payment services.

It applies to all EU member states, making way for the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), which will break down cross-border payment costs.

The Commission has warned that it will legislate if the European Payments Council fails to develop a new legal framework for direct debit and credit transfer systems before 2008.

It is understood that there are already tensions surfacing between the banks, which have different commercial philosophies regarding how the framework should operate.