Lovells has scooped an instruction from Equitable Life as it disposes of £4.6bn of its annuity business to Canada Life. It is a nice piece of work for Lovells, which has been steadily strengthening its relationship with the mutual for the past five years on non-contentious matters. The firm was first brought in to handle a compromise scheme for Equitable, replacing Denton Wilde Sapte as the group's main corporate counsel. The annuity sale follows the end of the litigation against Ernst & Young and a number of former Equitable directors last year. It has been generally welcomed as a sensible move for the mutual, which has been struggling for some time, and could well herald a bigger deal to secure the society's future. Lovells will be feeling confident that, if such a deal happens, it will be the first law firm to be called on.