UK M&A expertise eludes Sullivan’s best efforts

Sullivan & Cromwell appears to have stepped up plans to enter the UK M&A market. In a not so subtle manoeuvre, headhunters for Sullivan have been working their way through a list of some of the City’s most notable corporate lawyers, approaching heavyweights from firms including Slaughter and May, Freshfields and Linklaters.

So far, though, the firm appears to have failed to snare anyone, despite offering a remuneration package upward of £1m a year. This may be because of the mixed messages that everyone at Sullivan – except for the headhunters, of course – appear to be spouting.
While Sullivan has been relatively open about its plans to develop a UK corporate team in the past, chairman Rodgin Cohen has suddenly decided to deny both this and that the firm is actively seeking a lateral partner hire.

Cohen has opted for the somewhat vague line that the firm would consider hiring an individual if they fitted with the firm’s plan for the London office to provide a full service to US clients, and not to compete directly with UK firms. Perhaps Cohen is mindful of the inordinate length of time it took Simpson Thacher & Bartlett to secure a London acquisition finance heavyweight. It was several years before the firm finally landed Allen & Overy’s Euan Gorrie in 2002.

Thoroughly modern Langley: it’s time courts caught up

In the midst of the very un-British heatwave last week, it was heartening to learn that the stuffiest traditions of the court system were being set aside.

Presiding over the Equitable Life trial, Mr Justice Langley allowed counsel and witnesses to shed their jackets in favour of more seasonable shirt sleeves. Judge Langley has already dispensed with robes in his courtroom.

This sensible gesture may not sound like much, but a few years ago it would have been unheard of, just as Mr Justice Laddie’s imminent departure to a lowly law firm would historically have resulted in his being shunned by his colleagues at the bar.

Judge Langley was also applauded for making sure that one witness finished giving his evidence before the court dispersed in order to ensure that tickets to Wimbledon the next day were not wasted.
Let’s hope more people follow the example of this thoroughly modern judge in the future.

TCC reject Judge Seymour hanging round Queen’s Bench

Fresh from being shunted out of the Technology and Construction Court (TCC), His Honour Judge Seymour is straight back at work in the Queen’s Bench Division.

The bar’s rumour mill was awash with whispers that the Lord Chief Justice’s ‘redeployment’ was diplomatic speak for effective retirement, but the mill was wrong.

Last Tuesday (21 June), Judge Seymour was sitting in St Dunstan’s House overseeing Gainsborough-Field v Hyde & Ors.

It seems that the complaints about Seymour’s work, and Mr Justice Alan Moses’ subsequent report to the Lord Chancellor, were enough to get him removed from the TCC but not enough to spare the Queen’s Bench. So is reform of the TCC just a PR exercise?