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20 May 2013
London-based international insurance law firm Clyde & Co is expected to launch its Australian operations on October 1 with 19 lawyers following the defection of the senior insurance team from Allens last week.
Allens insurance practice leader John Edmond, who will lead Clyde in Australia, told insuranceNEWS.com.au the defections resulted from growing perceptions within the Allens insurance team of conflicts of interest with the firm’s corporate and banking clients.
“The primary thing is there’s been significant conflicts relating to professional indemnity (PI) and directors’ and officers’ (D&O) insurance.”
Allens insurance team members who have joined Mr Edmond in the move to Clyde & Co are Oscar Shub and Dean Carrigan in Sydney, Jenny Thornton in Perth, Simon McConnell and Mun Yeow in Hong Kong and Matthew Skinner and Iain Stewart in Singapore.
insuranceNEWS.com.au understands negotiations that could lead to further defections from Allens are still underway and to date these have been amicable.
Mr Edmond says he has received a lot of interest from insurance lawyers wanting to join Clyde & Co and he plans to hire between 12 and 15 for the Sydney and Perth offices to join the four partners who have left Allens in Australia.
Insurance lawyers in the big firms “suffer conflicts of interest, and those in boutique local firms are attracted to having the massive global backup Clyde will provide”, he said.
The defections from Allens were not unexpected, with its chief executive partner Michael Rose saying the firm has taken a strategic decision to concentrate on corporate work and complex litigation.
Allens’ formation of a strategic alliance with UK global legal group Linklaters two months ago cemented this directional change.
“We made a conscious decision to exit our insurance practice in Asia,” Mr Rose said. “The departure of a number of partners to Clyde & Co is a natural outworking of that.”
Linklaters provides strategic, regulatory and litigation advice to the insurance and banking sectors and assists insurance companies and corporations in investigating insurance claims.
The tie-up heightens difficulties for the Allens insurance practice, which can act for individuals or companies seeking to claim on their PI and D&O policies, putting them into direct conflict with banks and corporations represented by the firm.
Mr Edmond, who worked for Clyde & Co from 1995 to 1998, says the firm is “a very natural fit for us”.
“Clyde & Co has an unrivalled reputation in the global insurance industry and is a clear leader in dispute resolution.”
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