Eversheds to split with South Africa arm over client conflicts

Eversheds has announced it is to split with its South African arm in the New Year due to issues over client conflicts.

The Johannesburg-based practice will return to trading under the name Routledge Modise, although the two firms are planning to continue to work together in the region.

In a statement, Eversheds chief executive Bryan Hughes said: “Recently Eversheds and Eversheds South Africa found ourselves in an impossible situation where the best interests of two of our respective, prominent clients in different jurisdictions could not be fully represented.

“With client service being at the heart of our collective ethos the joint decision was made that our South African firm would leave Eversheds.”

The move comes after a longstanding legal dispute over Routledge’s trading name. Routledge signed up to become a formal ally of the UK firm in April 2008 before electing to change its name to Eversheds in July 2009.

However, the Law Society of the Northern Provinces claimed that the name change was in contravention of its own rules, as well as section 23 of the Attorneys Act. A South African court subsequently ruled in February last year that Routledge had not broken local law by changing its name to Eversheds.

Hughes added: “Ongoing client work in South Africa will be unaffected. Eversheds remains committed to developing the many relationships and opportunities that it has established in Africa over the years.”

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