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UK Law Society Approves German Tax Advisers For Potential MDPs

by Robin Pilgrim,, London

23 December 2003

With the possibility of multi-disciplinary partnerships (MDPs) between solicitors and non-legal professionals something of a hot topic at present, the UK Law Society's recent decision to allow a German tax adviser to partner with two UK law firms has been welcomed by many as a step in the right direction.

Speaking at a recent Law Society Council meeting, the UK's Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer urged the industry not to wait for the completion of the Clementi review to implement reforms, and pushed for the introduction of multi-disciplinary partnerships (MDPs).

"We must not let the welcome fact of the work of the Clementi review put a stop to all progress in the meantime. We need to work together to examine areas where change for the consumer's benefit can be delivered in the short and medium term," he told the meeting, continuing:

"Multi-disciplinary partnerships, the role of employed solicitors, the probate market - these are just some of the areas we should look at quickly and imaginatively to see how we can respond rapidly to consumers' needs whilst, of course, ensuring that their interests are properly protected."

In light of this, the Society's decision to permit German tax advisory firm, Steuerberatern to apply to become a registered foreign lawyer, which would allow it to partner with City law firms Clifford Chance and SJ Berwin, can be seen as significant.

According to a Law Gazette report, this development will mean that SJ Berwin may be able to merge fully with its German associate firm, Knopf Tulloch Steininger, most of whose partners are with Steuerberatern.

Senior partner, David Harrel explained to the Law Gazette that:

"This is not only an important breakthrough for us, but for all firms like use operating in Germany. We can now fully incorporate our tax colleagues into our partnership and this will make mergers with German firms much easier."

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