Whether it be for dinner or across the negotiating table, Lord Grabiner QC is not a man you stand up lightly. But that’s exactly what Norton Rose and Grabiner’s opposition counsel 20 Essex Street’s Stephen Morris QC did in Brussels last week.
The legal teams were out in Brussels for a European Commission hearing over the ongoing dispute between Visa and Morgan Stanley. Visa is refusing to allow Morgan Stanley into its network due to Morgan Stanley’s own credit card, Discover.
It wasn’t just Grabiner who was left twiddling his thumbs either. Client Morgan Stanley had flown in representatives from the US and the instructing solicitor, SJ Berwin partner Stephen Kon, was also in attendance.
But no one was there representing Visa, despite the fact that the credit-card company had requested that the two-day hearing be held in the first place.
Visa’s official statement says that it decided the case had changed due to news that Morgan Stanley was spinning off Discover, and so the hearing was of no use. Visa further claims that it did meet with the Commission, so “it’s untrue that Visa didn’t turn up to the hearing”.
Had it been charming Paris or beautiful Rome, Grabiner probably wouldn’t have minded as much. But Brussels – that’s just mean.