Law Society to review Freshfields ruling

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The Independent Online

The Law Society, which regulates solicitors, has said it intends to investigate the ramifications of Wednesday's High Court judgment that barred Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, one of the country's biggest commercial law firms, from acting for Philip Green in his bid for Marks & Spencer.

The Law Society, which regulates solicitors, has said it intends to investigate the ramifications of Wednesday's High Court judgment that barred Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, one of the country's biggest commercial law firms, from acting for Philip Green in his bid for Marks & Spencer.

The judgment, from Mr Justice Collins, questioned the effectiveness of law firms' "Chinese walls" which are supposed to protect clients and lawyers from conflicts of interests. Hugh Crisp, the chief executive of Freshfields, attacked the judgment yesterday, claiming it would increase uncertainty for clients and law firms, making it more difficult for clients to find the right lawyers.

Freshfields said it did not - and would never - disclose to any member of the Revival Consortium any confidential information relating to Marks & Spencer.

M&S won the injunction stopping Freshfields acting for Mr Green because it had previously acted for M&S in drawing up commercially sensitive contracts with George Davies, the per una supplier.

Mr Justice Collins said: "I find it hard to accept there would be no reasonable conflict. I cannot see, even with a firm the size of Freshfields, any effective barriers put in place given the very large number of people involved. I do not see a Chinese wall as sufficient."

A Law Society spokesman said: "The Law Society is considering the implications of this week's judgment."

Clifford Chance, another big law firm, said the general implications of the judgment would clarify English law, bringing it into line with systems in Europe where lawyers can act against an existing client only if it is unrelated to previous work.

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