Open goal

Destination transparency, as Russian bank publishes law panel application results

Panel reviews, particularly at the world’s leading banks, are always keenly awaited, highly sought-after and – as many lawyers would admit – often overhyped. Perhaps this is down to the mystique that surrounds most panel revamps, what with the majority of banks refraining from publishing the names of appointed firms and some, such as in the latest review by RBS, refusing to even hint at which firms have made first-time appearances.

Barclays arguably made things more transparent last year by publishing a lengthy list of results of the review of its global legal panel, broken down by practice area and region. But Russia’s largest lender Sberbank has gone one better and not only published the results of its inaugural panel review in Russian on its website, but also included the names of all the firms that failed to win spots.

Firms can be under no misapprehension as to which of the 13 sub-panels or additional sub-streams they have or have not been appointed to, since the document lists first the firms that did ‘NOT’ – note Sberbank’s uncompromising capital letters – make the cut for the respective areas, before going on to name the firms that did win spots.

While some lawyers have welcomed the transparency of the Barclaysesque review, saying that it may help make the Russian legal market a more level playing field for less established firms, others are more cautious.

“I have mixed emotions about this, but if things are going this way at least it’s nice to be on [the list],” comments one Moscow-based finance partner.

However, given that Sberbank is now the third largest bank in Europe by market capitalisation, it’s about time it set up its first official panel, according to Hogan Lovells’ Moscow managing partner Oxana Balayan.

“Panel reviews are new to many Russian companies and Sberbank has been one of the pioneers in introducing the concept of running a panel in the country,” says Balayan.

Let’s hope its pioneering attitude to transparency rubs off on other banks.