There’s no ART to insurance

The departure of David Page from Clyde & Co is a tacit admission by the Eastcheap firm that it will no longer target the structured finance end of the insurance business. Clyde & Co officially says there was no disagreement, but a memo seen by The Lawyer makes it clear that Page had decided that his strategic vision would fit better elsewhere.

At the start of the alternative risk transfer (ART) trend five years ago, Barlow Lyde & Gilbert and Clyde & Co had hopes of fashioning a high-end advisory business focused on capital markets products targeted to the reinsurance industry. But ART has never really taken off in the UK as it did in the US. If anything, risk transfer technology has veered towards the synthetic structures of the CDO market. And despite Page’s contacts with the likes of Swiss Re, the magic circle has kept a lock on insurance-related work through the investment banks.

Page’s experience would fit with US firms, which straddle finance and insurance. LeBoeuf is not in the frame, so the smart money may be on Chadbourne & Parke, which earlier this year took on much of Denton Wilde Sapte’s contentious insurance practice. Page would certainly fill a gap.

Associated Newspapers challenges fees for freedom

Leading the charge for freedom of expression is Associated Newspapers’ head of legal Harvey Kass. Not only did Kass and his team of external advisers succeed in getting the first ever cost cap on a conditional fee arrangement (CFA) (see page 5), but just as The Lawyer was going to press, the publishers won another libel action also brought on a CFA.

The defamation claim had been brought by police inspector Christopher Miller, who secured a no-win no-fee arrangement with his solicitor. If Miller’s claim had been successful, the Police Federation (supporting his claim) would have also claimed a £600,000 premium from the publishers on top of solicitors’ fees. Instead the federation now faces a hefty costs liability. As Kass said: “Lawyers are using the inadequate rules to attempt to pressurise publishers from defending claims that are sometimes unjust.”

Luckily, Kass and his lawyers – in this case, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain – are not bowing to the pressure and are fighting back. For the sake of freedom of expression, let’s hope they continue to do so.

Eversheds in driving seat for MG Rover

The collapse of MG Rover last Friday (8 April) has gifted Eversheds the plum role of advising the company’s joint administrators.

As first revealed on (8 April) the national firm is advising PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Rob Hunt, Tony Lomas and Ian Powell. Additionally, Hunt, Lomas and Steven Pearson have been appointed joint administrators of Longbridge engine plant Powertrain.

Eversheds’ appointment should come as no surprise. The firm secured that mandate thanks to its longstanding relationship with MG Rover. Eversheds has been helping to save the company for three years. In April 2002 the firm was brought in to advise on a joint venture with China Brilliance Industrial Holdings in another seemingly futile attempt to safeguard jobs at the beleaguered car maker.