SJ Berwin and Clifford Chance have finally overcome a battle with the Law Society to have German tax advisers, Steuerberater, recognised as foreign lawyers within UK partnerships.
The Rules & Ethics Committee agreed in its 5 December meeting that it would approve the profession of Steuerberater for the purpose of multinational legal practices, with the decision requiring no further ratification.
The move applies to all English and Welsh firms, and means Steuerberater can now benefit from the tax advantages of being part of a UK partnership. However, it does not mean that tax advisers in other jurisdictions will be accepted automatically.
The Law Society decision will allow SJ Berwin to fully merge its German practice – a move that looks likely to happen at the end of this financial year.
SJ Berwin has been pushing for this decision since it first planned to merge with Knopf Tulloch & Partners. For Clifford Chance it became an issue following the merger with Pünder in 2000. SJ Berwin consultant Michael Rose and Clifford Chance’s legal relations manager Babara Ford joined forces in March this year to work together on the issue.
Clifford Chance has four Steuerberater at partner level, while SJ Berwin has five.