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1). RBC comes under regulatory scrutiny for it’s treatment of Whistleblowers
The treatment of whistleblowers at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has come under scrutiny from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as reported today by the Financial Times.
Although the FCA have declined to comment over the extent of their investigation into RBC, the allegations arose after former head of emerging markets currency trading John Banerjee won his unfair dismissal case against the bank last month.
Since then, five more potentially similar cases have come to light of individuals who have been dismissed without due process after whistleblowing on various legal and compliance problems across the bank’s range of businesses in cases spanning several years.
Although rarely concerning itself with individual tribunal cases, concern over how whistleblowers are treated have reached the highest echelons of the FCA after the regulator imposed an unprecedented fine on Barclays chief executive Jes Staley after he tried to uncover the identity of a whistleblower in May. He became the only chief executive of a major financial institution to be fined by the FCA and keep his job.
The FCA still has some way to go to convince bystanders that it is tough on poor treatment of whistleblowers. Many criticised it for not banning Mr Staley over what was a test case of tough new rules that aim to hold top management accountable for failings on their watch.
According to its annual report published last month, the FCA received 1,106 whistleblowing reports in the 2017-2018 financial year. This is more than the 900 reports received the previous year, but well below the 1,340 recorded in 2015-2016. Of the 1,106 disclosures made in the last financial year, the FCA is taking further action in 121 cases and is assessing a further 128 disclosures.
“Whistleblowers play an important role in exposing poor practice in firms and they have in the past few years contributed intelligence crucial to action taken against firms and individuals,” said the FCA in a statement.
2). Eversheds and Freshfields register most Solicitors in Ireland
Eversheds Sutherland and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer topped the list of firms who have registered solicitors in Ireland, according to research published this week from Legal Week.
The firms have registered 132 and 131 solicitors to the Irish roll respectively, with a total of 1,644 England and Wales solicitors having been registered in Ireland since 2016. Of those registering, 586 have taken the further step of taking out an Irish practising certificate.
Registering lawyers in Ireland, as well as the opening of offices in the country, has been a precautionary measure taken by many firms against a possible no-deal Brexit ahead of the referendum in June 2016, amid fears that they may find it more difficult to practise EU law without lawyers registered in an EU country.
Concerns centre on the ability of UK-qualified lawyers to maintain legal professional privilege in disputes and competition matters once Brexit takes place in March 2019. This privilege allows client companies to withhold documentation from investigating authorities, such as the European Commission, on the grounds they pertain to litigation proceedings.
Firms have been shoring up their position by registering lawyers in Ireland in case non-EU-registered lawyers no longer maintain this privilege.
The magic circle accounts for 300 of the solicitor registrations, with Slaughter and May next behind Freshfields in registering 98 lawyers in Ireland. Allen & Overy, Linklaters and Clifford Chance have however taken a more cautious approach with 39, 31 and 25 registrations respectively.
Other firms that have taken this approach include Latham & Watkins, who have registered 80 lawyers – or 25% of its London headcount – in Ireland, Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith Freehills and IP specialist Bristows.
Eversheds Sutherland has made clear its expansion plans in the country, with Ireland managing partner Alan Murphy planning to expand headcount in both Dublin and Belfast by 2020, with a focus on litigation, real estate, employment and banking.
3). Movers & Shakers
Infrastructure partner Conrad Andersen the second magic circle partner to make a move to Latham this week
Brendan Moylan joins Latham’s city office, and specialises in domestic and cross-border M&A for private equity clients
Paul Lingard, a partner in Clifford Chance’s mining group, is moving over to Norton Rose Fulbright, alongside Herbert Smith Freehills executive counsel Miriam D’Souza
Mergers & Alliances
Office Openings & Closings
Innovation and Technology
Firm subscribes to Luminance and eBrevia to boost document analytics, as well as hiring former senior associate Emma Sorrell as a legal innovation specialist and former integration specialist Ian Huddart as technology innovation specialist.
Firm launches Bfrank app following its win at an app competition hosted internally by the firm