News in brief

A round up of stories from the UK and around the world

DLA's Manchester office has been raided by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) as part of an investigation into one of its long-term clients. The SFO left DLA's office early on Tuesday morning (7 August) carrying computer equipment and more than 100 boxes of paper. The raid follows an investigation into Spring Group, the training provider whose subsidiary Link Training tried unsuccessfully to sue North Derbyshire Tertiary College in Chesterfield for £3m owed for a training contract. A spokesperson for the SFO said: “The SFO, with the Derbyshire police, are investigating allegations of serious fraud in relation to Link Training services. Evidential searches were undertaken at five premises in the Greater Manchester area on 7 August 2001.” DLA Manchester managing partner Roy Beckett (above) said: “There is an investigation into the client of the firm but we won't comment on any of our clients.”
Kimberly-Clark's former general counsel has taken over the same position at drinks giant Allied Domecq. Leonard Quaranto replaces Russell Kelly, who was general counsel and company secretary at Allied Domecq for two years. Quaranto, who was the US home care giant's general counsel for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, will sit on the board and head a team of 30 lawyers.
BBLP Beiten Burkhardt Mittl & Wegener is in merger talks with KPMG's German law firm Treuhand & Goerdeler. Merger plans are expected to be drawn up during the summer and follow official backing by Beiten Burkhardt's partnership at the end of July. Simmons & Simmons has put its own merger talks on hold due to internal discord at Beiten Burkhardt.
Walker Morris has signed a memorandum of understanding with local authority Wakefield Borough Council, meaning it will be the council's firm of choice for external legal work. The firm's first instruction from the authority will be on a £50m refurbishment of Wakefield's street lighting.
Weil Gotshal & Manges' senior corporate assistant Stephen Lloyd is leaving to join Ashurst Morris Crisp. According to Weil Gotshal's London managing partner Mike Francies, he was likely to have made partner at the firm later this year, but is joining Ashursts as a senior lawyer. At Weil Gotshal Lloyd worked closely with Francies handling work for some of the firm's biggest clients, including GE Capital and Hicks Muse Tate & Furst.
Bevan Ashford is boosting its PFI and projects team with six hires and an internal move, giving it a total of 20 fee-earners led by Steve Hughes (right). The hires include Masons assistant Chris Wade, who joins as a partner, Adrian Chaffey, who joins as a senior assistant from Mills & Reeve, and French-qualified international lawyer Catherine Renault, who joins from a subsidiary of French railway SNCF.
Mallesons Stephen Jaques partner Connie Carnabuci has joined Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Hong Kong. Carnabuci is an intellectual property (IP) and IT communications specialist who worked in Mallesons' New York, Sydney and Hong Kong offices during her time at the firm. Freshfields has also recruited Gide Loyrette Nouel real estate lawyer Benoît Marcilhacy to its Paris office as a partner.
Coudert Brothers has appointed the national head of Eversheds' Asian desk as a senior associate. Sharon Needle has been taken on by the corporate department of Couderts' London office. Her work will mainly involve expanding the Islamic and Asian dimension of the office's mainstream corporate and banking practice.
Rosenblatt Solicitors has taken on Curry Popeck lawyer David Fairfield as a partner in its corporate department. Fairfield was the head of Curry Popeck's company commercial department. He was previously a partner at Dechert.