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02 February 2021

Simpson Thacher unveils Brussels office launch plan in response to Brexit

Former Allen & Overy antitrust global co-head Antonio Bavasso lined up to head second European office

By Ben Edwards

EC headquarters

The European Commission headquarters in Brussels Shutterstock

Wall Street firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has unveiled plans to open an office in Brussels later this year as it adjusts to the impact of Brexit on its ability to advise clients on EU law.

The new office is expected to open in the summer, and follows the arrival in December of dual-qualified UK and Italian competition lawyer Antonio Bavasso from Allen & Overy, where he was co-head of its global antitrust and telecoms, media and technology practices.

Bill Dougherty, chairman of Simpson Thacher’s executive committee, said: “In the wake of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, companies in the region and around the globe will face continued challenges in navigating an evolving legal framework.”

He added: “The Brussels office will complement the firm’s presence in London and will focus on providing our clients with advice on European merger control and competition law and regulations concerning foreign direct investment before the European Commission, the European Courts and member states of the European Union.”

Bavasso joined the firm’s antitrust and trade regulation practice in London, currently its only office in Europe. He is expected to head up the Brussels office once it is launched.

Jason Glover, managing partner of Simpson Thacher’s London Office, said: “Antonio’s experience advising some of the world’s most prominent companies, including many leading technology companies, on competition and transactional issues makes him exceedingly well-positioned to assist clients as they traverse a changing landscape.”

He added: “Our expansion into Brussels perfectly complements our existing work in London and strengthens our broader global transactional and regulatory teams advising clients on their European interests, particularly in the wake of Brexit and the accelerating regulation of digital and technology companies on both sides of the Atlantic.”

While the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU included a section on legal services, Mickael Laurans, head of international at the Law Society of England and Wales, wrote in a blog that all it really offered was clarity and transparency around the restrictions placed on UK lawyers – which essentially puts them on a par with non-EU, third-country lawyers.

In November last year, the Irish law society blocked an effort by more than 4,000 England and Wales qualified lawyers who had gained admission to the Irish Roll of Solicitors, hoping it would allow them to continue practising EU law. The Law Society of Ireland said lawyers would have to be physically based in Ireland, or prove they intended to move there, in order to obtain practising certificates.

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