Dutch and Belgian firm Stibbe has continued slimming down its Brussels office to fit in with UK alliance partner Herbert Smith

A group of five partners have left Stibbe in Brussels for a joint venture with domestic intellectual property firm Braun Bigwood and will not be replaced.

The Lawyer understands that while the five were not officially asked to leave, Stibbe saw their practice as too domestic to fit in with Herbert Smith’s strong international Brussels office.

Herbert Smith told Stibbe that its Brussels office was too large and too domestic three years ago when the firms started discussing their formal alliance.

The firms decided that Stibbe’s Amsterdam office was its most attractive asset, but agreed that Brussels should become leaner.

Stibbe signed up as a member of the formal alliance with Herbert Smith and German firm Gleiss Lutz in November last year.

The five partners who are leaving Stibbe – banking lawyer Lucien Simont, litigator Paul Alain Foriers, commercial lawyer Béatrice Thieffry, insolvency lawyer Michèle Grégoire and corporate finance specialist Sandrine Hirsch, will join the 10 Braun Bigwood partners to create a new firm named Simont Braun.

Foriers, Grégoire and Hirsch are equity partners at Stibbe, Thieffry is a salaried partner and Simont, who is 70, retired from Stibbe’s equity recently before deciding to take part in the joint venture with Bigwood Braun.