Credit card giant to review legal panel

Bank One International's new general counsel of its European credit card operation is reviewing its panel of law firms.

At present the credit card giant, which is the world's largest Visa card issuer, outsources work to Clifford Chance, Lovell White Durrant and Eversheds' office in Cardiff, where the Bank One UK operation is based.

But Alastair Stables, who has joined the company from rival credit card issuer MBNA International Bank, where he was director of legal services, says he intends to appoint firms on a “horses for courses basis”.

He says: “[Legal scrutiny of our] marketing stuff will go out to tender to a group of firms. We are looking for it to be cheap. If we are going to go to outside firms it is for serious advice, the less serious stuff we can keep in-house.”

The company, which is a product of a US merger between the First National Bank of Chicago and Bank One Corporation, which then took over credit card issuer First USA, launched its UK operation earlier this year.

Emily Reid, a partner in the retail financial services group at Lovells, which has handled work for Bank One for six months, says: “What [Stables] is doing is what you would expect any new general counsel to do.”

Stables is also setting up the UK legal department as he did with MBNA in 1994.

But he says he wants to take on just three or four lawyers as opposed to the 12-strong department he set up at MBNA. “I don't want to do anything that big. I think it is possible to do it with a smaller number,” he says.

Philip Vaughan, banking partner at Eversheds' Cardiff office says: “Alastair is well known to us. We are its local firm and we are hoping to expand the relationship.”

Clifford Chance is unavailable for comment.