Freshfields is in merger talks with German firm Gleiss Lutz Hootz Hirsch, as first revealed on The Lawyer website – www.the-lawyer.co.uk – last Wednesday. It follows a decision to merge with Deringer Tessin Herrmann & Sedemund (The Lawyer, 6 September).

Denton Wilde Sapte's future chairman James Dallas has been appointed as non-executive director of Amec.

Allen & Overy has merged with Spanish firm Satrustegui & Asociados. The merger adds three new partners to A&O's Madrid practice – Fernando Satrustegui, Marta Gil de Biedma and Juan Guerrero-Burgos. The story was first published on The Lawyer website.

Beachcroft Wansbroughs' Manchester partner Tony Healey has been appointed president of the Manchester Law Society. With 1,200 members the Manchester arm is the largest division of the society outside London.

St Philip's Chambers, the largest set in the country, has decided to move to new premises at an estimated total cost of more than £2m. Under consideration is the old Bank of England building, in St Philip's Square, which would take the chambers away from Fountain Court, the traditional home for barristers in Birmingham.

John Wood is retiring as special counsel to US firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius. Wood has advised Morgan Lewis since 1997 on commercial litigation and fraud issues. Wood was director of the Serious Fraud Office from 1987-1990 where he supervised the Guinness case and before that spent 20 years in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, where he prosecuted Myra Hindley and Ian Brady.

Wragge & Co has won what is believed to be the first case brought against the House of Commons. The firm represented Harmon CFEM Facades, which is based in the US, successfully proving that the Commons had operated a buy-British policy in some of the tendering for the new parliamentary office block at Portcullis House.

The Lord Chancellor's Department's first annual report on judicial appointments shows nearly half of the 634 positions in the last financial year went to solicitors. Solicitors took 46 per cent of posts, barristers got 37 per cent, 6 per cent were QCs and 11 per cent were non-practising – many holding other judicial appointments.

Tarlo Lyons has appointed Tim Couldrick as a partner in its company and commercial department. Couldrick specialises in all aspects of IT outsourcing, cross-border joint ventures and M&A work. He formerly practised at Addleshaw Booth & Co and Fladgate Fielder. Then, in 1997, he co-founded CS Outsourcing Holdings, a US-based software and consulting business.

KPMG, the big five accountancy firm, has been ordered by the High Court to pay compensation to the Law Society for failing to spot discrepancies in the books of law firm Durnford Ford, based in East Sussex, which closed down in 1992. The Law Society paid out £8.5m in compensation following the collapse of the law firm.