Swedish firm is forced to scrap KPMG agreement

Wahlin Adokatbyra, the Swedish associate law firm of accountants KPMG, has been forced by the Swedish Bar Association to tear up its co-operation agreements with the accountancy giant.

The firm was given until the end of last year to withdraw the agreements or face sanctions. Last minute pleas for the Bar to reverse its decision failed.

Partner Tryggve Wahlin said: 'We protested but we couldn't convince the board [of the Bar].'

He added that the firm and KPMG offered to change offending parts of the agreements, but the Bar would not listen. 'We had meetings but they did not lead to anything.'

This is a second blow for KPMG in its attempt to build a law firm in Sweden. Wahlin Adokatbyra was set up last year by defectors from the Gothenburg office of leading Swedish firm Lagerlof & Leman.

It originally operated as KPMG Wahlin. However, the firm dropped the KPMG from its name in September after the arrangement was called into question by the Bar. Since then, pressure has mounted within the professional body for a stronger response, leading to last month's ultimatum.

Elisabeth Fura-Sandstrom, a partner at Stockholm firm Vinge and head of the Swedish delegation to the CCBE, said: 'The position of the Bar association is that the arrangement as a whole was not in compliance with the ethical rules of lawyers. What the Bar association is concerned about is the independence of the profession.'

The firm will continue informal links with KPMG and Tryggve Wahlin hoped to engage the Bar association in 'constructive dialogue' to enable it to extend the relationship. He ruled out court action against the professional body.