Eversheds parts company with South African ally over conflicts

Eversheds’ South Africa counterpart is to break away from the firm in the new year due to conflicts between the firms.

Bryan Hughes
Bryan Hughes

The news comes after Eversheds fought a legal battle in the jurisdiction over the branding of South African alliance firm Routledge Modise, which is home to 41 partners. The firm became a member of Eversheds International in April 2008 (14 April 2008) and practised under the banner ’Routledge Modise in association with Eversheds’.

However, the firm got into hot water after it formally changed its name to Eversheds in July 2009, leading to The Law Society of the Northern Provinces, the local law society, to argue that the firm had broken the Attorneys Act and its own rules. It ordered a name reversal (7 December 2009).

Eversheds put up a fight for the brand, claiming that the Law Society’s move was “anticompetitive” and that it should be able to trade under the global brand, just as its competitors could.

In February last year it won the fight to have its own Eversheds branding reinstated, but now the South African firm will revert to its original trading name of Routledge Modise from January.

Eversheds chief executive Bryan Hughes said: “Recently Eversheds and Eversheds South Africa found ourselves in an impossible situation where the best interests of two of our respective prominent clients in different jurisdictions could not be fully represented.

“With client service being at the heart of our collective ethos the joint decision was made that our South African firm would leave Eversheds.

“The two firms will continue to work together in the region and ongoing client work in South Africa will be unaffected. Eversheds remains committed to developing the many relationships and opportunities that it has established in Africa over the years.”