Top 10 stories: 29 January – 4 February 2016

This week’s top 10 stories are a particularly diverse and international selection, with international mergers, relationships in the Middle East and our South East Asia Elite all featuring.

Nevertheless the top story of the week was the news that RBS has launched an attack on litigation boutique Cooke Young & Keidan, which is acting for the claimants in a lawsuit brought by shareholders against the bank. RBS filed for an injunction to prevent the firm from continuing to act for the property investment company over alleged issues of conflict.

Close behind was Wednesday’s news that Berwin Leighton Paisner is in preliminary merger talks with US firm Greenberg Traurig – a tie-up which would create a £1bn firm with well over 2,500 lawyers worldwide.

The international angle was emphasised in this year’s South East Asia Elite report, our exclusive and in-depth examination of the expanding market in the region in which UK firms are the dominant international players.

Three of the top 10 stories last week involved the Middle East. Following the US decision to lift sanctions against Iran a number of international firms are looking at the jurisdiction and CMS became the first to open an office there.

In Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Justice has launched a legal challenge concerning the validity of joint ventures in the country, with Clifford Chance’s operations under examination after two of its joint venture partners quit the firm.

Meanwhile it emerged that White & Case had ended its Saudi Arabian association with Waleed Al-Nuwaiser after five years. The firm later signed a new association agreement with two of the former alliance’s partners.

Back in the UK, it emerged that the fees charged by Tesco’s panel firms could be under scrutiny when the supermarket giant begins its next panel review – although the retailer denied giving authority to the third party contractor understood to have sent letters to advisers on the topic.

Money was also under examination at DLA Piper after the firm overhauled its remuneration structure in a bid to drive profitability.

Another popular piece last week was our analysis of the £31.6m third-party funding deal between Burford Capital and BT and what it could mean for the litigation market.

Meanwhile the latest in our popular ‘My Career Story’ series saw Olswang’s corporate responsibility head Linda Zell talk about her decision to quit practising to take up the role.