Contingency fees likely as Aussie class actions increase says report
The likelihood of law firms being allowed to charge contingency fees in class actions is increasing and may become a reality in some Australian states in 2017.
A push for contingency fees is one of five predictions for the class actions environment from Herbert Smith Freehills.
“With the increasing political and judicial momentum behind improving access to justice, we may see one or two Australian States break rank and amend their legal professional rules to allow contingency fees,” commented partner Jason Betts.
He added that in that case, law firms would be more incentivised to pursue collective redress, deepening the class action market. Funding for class actions is also set to expand following the approval of the ‘common fund’ doctrine in the QBE.
With increased funding, HSF predicts law firms seeking an expansion of market share and new case types. The firm also expects a new debate on the regulation of funding.
Finally, all this is likely to increase risk for Australian businesses with Betts suggesting that boards conduct assessments of their vulnerability to class action.
KWM Europe in merger talks
King & Wood Mallesons’ European arm is in talks with several potential purchases for the ailing business according to UK media.
The Law Society Gazette says that the firm is in “detailed discussions with a small number of parties” but these appear to be bids to purchase the regional part of the verein rather than the merger of equals that would have once been expected.
New Aussie partners for Norton Rose Fulbright
Three lawyers have been promoted to the partnership of Norton Rose Fulbright in Australia while a further three will become senior counsel.
The new partners are: Matt Ellis (insurance) and Jyoti Singh (corporate) in Melbourne; and James Morris (banking & finance) in Sydney.
The new senior counsel are: Maija Kerry (corporate) and Andrew Willekes (litigation) in Sydney; and James Love (litigation) in Melbourne.
International firm seeks new managing partner
International firm RPC, which has offices in the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore, is beginning the process of electing a new managing partner following the retirement of Jonathan Watmough.
Watmough has been with the firm for 25 years including 8 as managing partner. He announced his retirement saying that it seemed like the “natural time” to move on and try something new.
Senior partner Rupert Bowell paid tribute to Watmough: "During Jonathan’s time at the helm, RPC has enjoyed great success, both in terms of the modernisation and reshaping of the business, as well as the strong growth and financial performance achieved.”