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SJ Berwin, in conjunction with Steven Gee QC, the head of ship and trade specialist set Stone Buildings, has established a centre dedicated to providing free advice to foreign lawyers on key areas of English law
The centre will provide help to lawyers in the area of civil mutual legal assistance (MLA), which relates to requests for evidence and witnesses from foreign states. Courts and lawyers are often frustrated by the bureaucracies and web of treaties surrounding MLA.
The so-called courtesy service will advise on enforcing judgments in England, obtaining evidence in England for use overseas, applications for anti-suit (restraining proceedings) and navigating the English court system and procedures. Gee, a specialist in Mareva injunctions and Anton Pillar orders, will provide advice on obtaining freezing orders.
Foreign lawyers can apply to receive advice through a website, which is yet to launch. Hilton Mervis, an SJ Berwin litigation partner who is running the scheme, said other firms have invested huge amounts in setting up databases for clients seeking information on precedents. "Because of our expertise in multijurisdictional work, this advice can be given at little or no cost to the firm," said Mervis.
A full-time support lawyer will manage the scheme and refer queries to partners.