SJ Berwin rewarded with EDS work after DLA Piper conflict

SJ Berwin rewarded with EDS work after DLA Piper conflict” />A DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary conflict of interest has handed SJ Berwin its first instruction from EDS on the IT company’s dispute with HM Revenue & Customs.

The move is a blow to DLA Piper because EDS is the firm’s biggest source of litigation work and two of the firm’s former lawyers, Hugh Owen and Nick Rogers, run the company’s in-house litigation team.

The dispute concerns a computer fault that overpaid people tax credits, which could cost the taxpayer £600m. SJ Berwin litigation partner Michael Bywell, who joined last November from DLA Piper, scooped the mandate to act for EDS due to his former firm’s relationship with the Inland Revenue.

“I’m leading a firmwide initiative to further expand our TMT [technology, media and telecoms] offering by bringing different departments together. I’m a litigator, but I have the sort of contacts who generate outsourcing and all types of other sorts of work,” said Bywell.

Bywell worked with EDS while he was at DLA Piper and has worked with a number of the firm’s top clients, including Barclays, Cable & Wireless, Colt Telecom, Transport for London and Virgin.

The Government chose Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) as its adviser on the dispute with EDS after outsourcing partner Alistair Maughan (then with Shaw Pittman) advised it on the mammoth Aspire IT outsourcing project, which saw EDS ejected and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Fujitsu Services brought in.

While MoFo is not renowned for its litigation expertise in London, Maughan has an unrivalled knowledge of the contracts after working on the Aspire deal for almost three years.

EDS has said it is trying to negotiate an acceptable outcome without the need for litigation.

DLA Piper declined to comment.