Law Society says it backs law firms working on behalf of Russian oligarchs

Monday, February 28, 2022 5:48 p.m.

The Law Society of England and Wales has come out in favor of law firms acting on behalf of Russian oligarchs, as City of London law firms come under pressure to cut ties with Russia, amid allegations that they are working on behalf of Vladimir Putin’s allies to block the British Government’s Sanctions Regime.

The comments come after UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the Sunday time the Foreign Ministry had received threats from law firms about plans to sanction the Russian oligarchs.

“We have already received letters at the Foreign Office, from lawyers, threatening us,” Truss said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

In response to Liz Truss’ comments, the Law Society said it supports lawyers who challenge the government’s sanctions regime.

In a statement, Law Society President I. Stephanie Boyce said, “It is the job of lawyers to represent their clients, whoever they are, so that the courts act fairly.”

“This is how the public can be sure they are living in a country that upholds the rule of law – unlike Putin’s tyrannical regime.”

“Lawyers are highly regulated and not allowed to make false objections to processes – if they challenge government actions it is because they believe the government may be breaking its own rules.”

“If Parliament wishes to change these rules, it has the power to do so democratically. The Law Society and our profession are ready to help the government put in place a watertight sanctions regime against Russia. »

The comments come after Labor MP Ben Bradshaw called on the government to “name and humiliate” law firms that lobby the government on behalf of Russian clients.

A spokesman for the prime minister today suggested law firms could also face sanctions, as he told law firms to ‘think very carefully’ about backing Putin’s regime.

Break ties?

Following Liz Truss’ comments, London law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has banned its lawyers from commenting on the sanctions externally.

A company spokesperson said: “Our sanctions team is advising clients around the world and, given the rapidly evolving situation, it is important that this advice is provided directly, through the appropriate channels. “

The law firm, which has offices in Moscow and a long list of Russian clients, did not say whether it planned to cut ties with Russian clients, but instead said all of its relationships were constantly on the lookout. ‘study.

“We have implemented appropriate risk management policies across our global operations and are monitoring all corporate relationships,” Norton spokesperson Rose Fulbright said.

Today, the law firm Magic Circle Linklaters and the Chicago-based law firm Baker McKenzie announced that they would reconsider their ties with Russia.

In an email to City AM, a spokesperson for Baker McKenzie said the law firm is “reviewing” its ties with Russia, part of a process that will see it sever ties with some Russian customers.

A spokesperson for law firm Magic Circle Linklaters also said the firm would review all of its “Russia-related work”.

Law firms Magic Circle Freshfields and Allen & Overy both declined to comment.