Brussels firm Huysman & Partners has changed its mind about an alliance with Osborne Clarke, after the Bristol firm withdrew from the UK Legal Resources Group (LRG) an alliance of UK firms which share a Brussels office.
Osborne Clarke managing partner Leslie Perrin told The Lawyer last November that his firm had established a Brussels presence outside the LRG six months earlier by entering an alliance with Huysmans.
But sources at Huysmans now say it only agreed to enter the alliance with Osborne Clarke 'in principle'.
It is understood that it wanted the potentially large number of referrals from the LRG as a whole and that when Osborne Clarke withdrew from it, the firm lost interest and was worried about loss of referrals from rival UK firms.
In addition, Huysmans' strategy has been deliberately not to do EU law and so the firm had been keen on making use of the EU law facility of the LRG Brussels office.
Leslie Perrin said: 'The fact is that they did agree to join Osborne Clarke. Now they have decided they don't want to. We are disappointed but we respect their right to make that decision and we remain friends.'
He added: 'It shows how difficult it is to establish a European practice. As soon as you try to do something that is more than just a referral network then you get difficulties… We look at it as two steps forward and one step back rather than the other way around.'