Firms contribute to World Bank survey

Allen & Overy

(A&O), Baker & McKenzie and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton have combined resources to conduct an extensive international survey on business regulation for the World Bank.

They joined a slew of global law firms, with knowledge of business law spanning 175 countries, in contributing to the survey. The report aims to provide an objective index of the ease of doing business in those jurisdictions.

As well as A&O, Bakers and Cleary , which used their international networks to conduct the interviews, the World Bank also gained assistance from members of independent law firm network Lex Mundi.

Meanwhile, lawyers from Ashurst, Denton Wilde Sapte, Finers Stephens Innocent, Lewis Silkin, Simmons & Simmons, and Weil Gotshal & Manges were surveyed for the UK jurisdiction of the report.

The lawyers were surveyed on eight different areas of law, ranging from corporate through to employment, construction, property and finance.

Published last month, the report shows the regulatory costs of business and will be used to analyse specific regulations that enhance or constrain investment, productivity and growth.

It is intended to help remove regulatory obstacles preventing businesses from operating, as well as reduce direct government involvement in setting up individual businesses in order to reduce opportunities for bribery.

The project was led by World Bank investment policy specialist Sabine Hertveldt, a former employment associate at A&O and a former international arbitration associate at White & Case in New York.

Hertveldt said: “Lawyers help set up businesses every day, and we think they can give us the best insight into what it takes to set up business in a country.

“The reason lawyers got involved in the report is not only to promote their firms, but because they believe in the need to reform laws, to cut red tape and to encourage business.”

A&O was approached by the World Bank for help on the project in April. The firm surveyed lawyers in its Amsterdam, Bangkok, Bratislava, Brussels, Budapest, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Madrid, Moscow, Prague and Rome offices.

Shankari Chandran, A&O’s pro bono & community affairs manager, said: “Working globally is obviously something that [A&O] gets to do on a regular basis for our corporate clients, but this was an unusual opportunity to do that for a pro bono client.”