06 Feb 2019

KPMG in French 'coup'

President of biggest law firm in France Fidal accuses KPMG of 'coup' against the profession after 130 lawyers decamp to accounting giant.

Isabelle OHara

French press reports describe the mass exit from Fidal to the accounting giant as ‘big bang chez les big four!’ Fidal is reported to be considering action for ‘unfair competition’


The lawyers joining KPMG’s legal arm included tax, transfer pricing, and international mobility specialists. Les Echos reported Yves de Sevin, president of Fidal, saying ‘this is unacceptable! This decision is contrary to all our agreements, to the ethics of lawyers. This is a coup by auditors against the legal profession.’ Fidal had a long-standing partnership agreement with KPMG until July 2018. The announcement is seen as a bombshell in French legal circles, especially given the long-time privileged relationship between the two entities.

Deal breakers

Fidal was affiliated with the KPMG network before severing any link with the audit network in the early 2000s due to regulations requiring clear separation between the board and the audit. The two firms maintained a non-exclusive power-sharing relationship. The press reports state that in July 2018, KPMG decided to break the deal, but KPMG included two clauses to reassure Fidal: a notice clause until 2019 and a non-poaching clause until 2020. Fidal is France's leading law firm with some 1,450 lawyers and lawyers and 90 offices in France, generating 363.2 million turnover in 2017-2018. KPMG France last year hit the billion turnover mark  with 1.074 billion. It posted a 9.5% year-on-year growth in its business.