CC advert receives German complaints

A Clifford Chance Punder advert has ruffled feathers in Germany amid claims that it breaches advertising regulations.

The ad was placed in national newspapers and magazines across Germany for the first two weeks of January to celebrate the merger of Clifford Chance with Punders and US firm Rogers & Wells.

But German law firms have complained that it breaks national legal advertising regulations, which specify that adverts aimed at clients must be no more than informative.

The advert includes sentences such as: “It's what you get from the new power in client service. It's also the solution to your global legal needs.”

A source says that Punders was sent a warning by at least two law firms – one based in Dusseldorf and the other in Munich – that it must stop running the advert.

He adds that if Punders chooses to ignore the warning, then the matter could go to court and carry a hefty fine.

The source claims that the complaints are aimed at the way Punders mentions clients in the adverts.

He says: “Officially any advertising done by law firms that includes clients must be objective.

“This [campaign] is perceived not to be objective.

“They could have taken it to court but instead they changed their advert.”

But Peter Nagele, European managing partner of Punders, argues that the advert was a fitting announcement of the successful merger.

He says: “The advert ran across the world and there were no complaints anywhere but Germany. German competition laws are strict about advertising.

“The claims demanded that we would not continue this advert but [the campaign] was over anyway.”

The German bar will not say whether it is investigating the issue.

But a spokesman says that complaints can be made by “going to the bar and saying it is against the law of our profession.

“This is about regulations. You can't give information about clients to a third person”.

But he adds that in this case a letter to Punders asking it to stop running the advert would usually be sufficient if it complied with the demands.