The move has come as a shock to Holmans and Richards Butler, which were both handling heavy litigation on El Paso's behalf when they were told to transfer the files to Jackson Parton.
Jackson Parton is now responsible for all of El Paso's English law litigation. Other litigation will go direct to the firm and will be referred to Continental firms where necessary. The instruction effectively puts Jackson Parton shipping litigator Nick Parton in charge of all El Paso's European shipping litigation.
El Paso asked Richards Butler to pass over files relating to a criminal prosecution against it arising out of an oil slick caused when one of its ships was damaged off the Bay of Biscay. Jackson Parton has just won the case.
Richards Butler declined to comment and Holmans was unavailable at the time of going to press.