Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate lawyers Barry O’Brien and Tim Jones have each instructed separate external advisers in the run-up to a tribunal hearing on their roles on Philip Green’s 2004 bid for M&S.
The revelation comes two days after the Law Society announced that it was referring the matter to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Freshfields former corporate head Barry O’Brien, who was the lead partner on the deal, has turned to Ashurst litigation head Ed Sparrow to conduct his defence against the tribunal.
Sparrow has extensive experience of regulatory litigation. In recent times he advised Shell executive Walter van der Vijver on the Financial Services
Authority (FSA)’s probe into Shell’s reserves. Earlier this year he advised the FSA on fending off Yukos’ attempt to delay the IPO of Russian state oil giant Rosneft.
Freshfields London corporate head Tim Jones has brought in Herbert Smith partner David Mayhew on the matter. Mayhew joined Herbert Smith on 1 December 2005 from the FSA, where he had worked for four years as acting director of enforcement. He had previously been a partner at Clifford Chance.
It is understood that Ashurst and Herbert Smith were both originally instructed several weeks ago. Prior to this Freshfields litigation head Ian Terry was handling the case.
In a statement, Freshfields said: “Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer regrets the decision of the Law Society to refer the [matter] to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Freshfields continues to believe that a bona fide decision of this kind should not form the basis of disciplinary proceedings.”
Ashurst and Herbert Smith declined to comment.