Bird & Bird snares franchising duo from FFW after Abell hire

Bird & Bird has hired two franchising partners from Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) following the recruitment of high-profile IP and IT head Mark Abell.

David Kerr
David Kerr

The firm has picked up FFW franchise disputes head Victoria Hobbs and fellow partner Graeme Payne, who both joined Bird & Bird yesterday (7 May). The two were widely tipped to join Abell after working with him on a number of mandates.

Bird & Bird was unable to comment on Abell’s hire, three months after his moved emerged (1 February 2013), but confirmed the two later additions.

Bird & Bird CEO David Kerr said in a statement: “There are clear synergies between the nature and type of clients that they have worked for and Bird & Bird’s areas of industry and practice focus. Their appointments will considerably strengthen the firm’s existing expertise in international franchising and multi-channel strategies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.”

Hobbs joined FFW in 2000 as a franchise litigation assistant, while Payne started at the City firm in 2002 on qualifying.

The news comes after The Lawyer revealed that Abell had instructed Herbert Smith Freehills for advice on his move to Bird & Bird, which became contentious after FFW suspended him from the partnership (19 February 2013).

The dispute is thought to involve an alleged breach of FFW’s partnership agreement. It is unclear whether this has been resolved. Abell was unavailable for comment.

Abell was the informal head of FFW’s franchising practice, with this position now taken jointly by partners David Bond and Chris Wormald.

FFW managing partner Michael Chissick said in a statement: “We thank Victoria and Graeme for their contribution to the firm and wish them well in their future careers. FFW has the largest franchising team in the UK with 23 franchising specialists that work across the retail, hotels, restaurants and service sectors. We remain the only full-service franchising team in the UK, covering transactions, disputes, IP, real estate, tax and employment.”