UK firm BC Toms & Co has established a permanent presence in Odessa after opening a project office in the city in December.

The office, headed by UK solicitor Peter Fullerton, was originally opened to accommodate the 17-lawyer firm while it handled the country’s largest construction project – the building of a hotel.

Managing partner Bate Toms says the firm, which already operates a “boutique practice” in the Ukraine, will remain in the region following the completion of the project, with Fullerton and assistant Gail Barr extending their remit to other Western multi-nationals.

Toms, who counts telecommunications, electricity, oil, gas and agriculture as the “bread and butter” work of the practice, says the firm now regards Odessa as one of its “principal presences”.

“We opened up the office for one large project in December and we’ve now taken a decision to make it a full-time office,” says Toms. “We’re now taking on additional work and trying to take on additional people. We’re growing very fast.”

Odessa, as a leading port and industrial centre, was well placed to develop into one of the major centres for Western investment in the former Soviet Union.