Line-up of top law firms win spots on new RBS EMEA panel

Clifford Chance (CC), Allen & Overy (A&O), White & Case and Eversheds are among a host of firms to have won places on Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) EMEA legal panel.

At least 21 international firms have taken coveted spots on the panel – which covers the bank’s legal work across 24 European, Middle East and African countries – following a competitive tender process.

The review, which kicked off on 15 April, also saw Simmons & Simmons, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) appointed, with the new line-up coming into effect on 1 July for a three-year period.

Firms were invited to pitch for work in the EMEA countries where RBS has its largest footprint. The bank is thought to have focused on a range of factors including outsourcing, the availability of secondees and the competitiveness of fee quotes, in addition to firms’ workplace diversity record and their commitment to CSR initiatives.

Each of the 24 countries has its own individual panel that includes both international and local outfits, with each categorised according to their ability to handle own-account, customer transactional and human resources work.

Among the biggest country panels are those for France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the UAE, where 15 or more international firms have been appointed, compared with smaller markets where just two to five firms were selected.

CC has won spots in every country where it has offices, while Eversheds has taken places on 23 out of the 24 country panels. Simmons has won work for offices in Europe and the Middle East, while A&O has also been selected to advise in a large number of countries.

The list of international firms appointed to the panel includes: A&O, Freshfields, Linklaters, CC, Eversheds, HSF, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright, Ashurst, Simmons, DLA Piper, SJ Berwin, Dentons, CMS, Watson Farley Williams, Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), White & Case, Latham & Watkins, Jones Day, Mayer Brown and Baker & McKenzie.

One financial services partner at a major US firm that chose not to pitch, but which has advised RBS in the past, told Legal Week: “We don’t go for the RBS panels – the work is increasingly high-volume and commoditised and they’re obsessed with driving down the rates as low as possible. In the EMEA region they’re also using local counsel for a lot more matters.”

The EMEA panel operates alongside RBS’s group and UK roster, which was renewed last year and saw around 60 firms including Travers, A&O, BLP and SJ Berwin appointed following a process that saw it cut back its adviser roster by 40%. The appointments run for three years from 1 January this year.

The number of sub-panels – which cover own-account work, customer-driven work and commoditised work – was also reduced from 13 to five, with a new alternative provider sub-panel brought in, comprising a mix of firms with volume expertise and legal process outsourcing providers.

RBS also operates separate legal panels for regions including Asia-Pacific and the US.

RBS declined to comment.