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Linklaters Bags Prestigious Lloyds Banking Group Project
Linklaters won a major project last week by displacing Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer as the regulatory adviser to Lloyds Banking Group in the high-profile PPI scandal. According to industry sources, this is the first major assignment made by the conservative retail bank to Linklaters. Usually, Linklaters serves as an adviser for the Lloyds' group corporate matters and legal practice.
The role of Linklaters in the matters of Lloyds' Banking Group had been increasing in recent times and in July, the law firm, along with Clifford Chance, took a lead role in offloading 632 branches of the group. The move, which would have involved around 7 percent of the UK current account market, was later dropped in favor of an IPO.
Both Freshfields and Linklaters are long standing advisers to the Lloyd's Banking Group.
Both firms have been involved in high-stake matters of the banking group including the GBP 22.5 billion raising of capital in 2009, where Linklaters corporate partners Jeremy Parr and Matthew Bland had a lead role, and the sale of a six percent stake in the group this month, where Freshfields advised the banking group.
Freshfields had been handling the PPI scandal on behalf of the banking group both at the Financial Ombudsman Service and during the claims for the British Bankers Association in 2011. However, its representation may not have been satisfactory to some decision makers, as the UK High Court dismissed the banking group's application and compelling the banks to pay compensation to customers.
Since the dismissal of its application in the Payment Protection Insurance scandal, Lloyds Banking group has paid out more than GBP 5.6 billion to 1.5 million customers in compensation.
"The Lawyer" reported that Freshfields lost the mandate after the bank was compelled to admit that there were issues with its PPI complaints procedure.
The issues were uncovered after an undercover reporter of The Times was able to land a job at a claims handling center of Lloyds. The undercover reporter discovered that some staff had been instructed to ignore possible fraud.
There has been no allegation so far that Freshfields is involved in any wrongdoing whatsoever. However, Freshfields' mandate to provide regulatory advice to the Lloyds' Banking group coincidentally expired soon after the UK Financial Conduct Authority began their investigation.
After expiry of Freshfields' mandate, the Lloyds' Banking group was prudent to hand over the rest of the matter to Linklaters as it reduces problems going forward.
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