Norton Rose Fulbright shuts Moscow office in response to Ukraine invasion

Freshfields drops a significant Russian client

Norton Rose Fulbright shuts Moscow office in response to Ukraine invasion

Global firm Norton Rose Fulbright is the latest firm to shutter its Moscow office in response to the invasion in the Ukraine, reported the Law Society Gazette.

“We are winding down our operations in Russia and will be closing our Moscow office as quickly as we can, in compliance with our professional obligations. The wellbeing of our staff in the region is a priority,” the firm told the Gazette.

Norton Rose Fulbright also said it will not accept “any further instructions from businesses, entities or individuals connected with the current Russian regime, irrespective of whether they are sanctioned or not”, and will review “exiting from existing work for them where our professional obligations as lawyers allow”.

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“Where we cannot exit from current matters, we will donate the profits from that work to appropriate humanitarian and charitable causes,” the firm added.

Norton Rose previously told its lawyers not to comment publicly on sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and businesses, but later clarified that its internal notice to staff “does not in any way prevent members of the firm from voicing any views that they may hold on the wider Ukraine invasion”, the Gazette reported.

The firm’s announcement follows the recent decision by Linklaters to close its office in Moscow, which opened in 1992, and “wind down” all of its operations in Russia.

Several major firms have responded to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine by announcing reviews of existing work and decisions to not take on any new clients with links to Russia.

London-based firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has announced that it will drop a major Russian client.

Freshfields is “immediately taking steps to terminate our litigation mandate” with VTB Bank, Freshfields told the Gazette – a matter of days after it told the High Court it would continue to act for the sanctioned lender.

“This approach goes beyond what is required to comply with our legal, regulatory and professional obligations, and reflects our values as a firm and the wider responsibilities of the global business community,” a Freshfields spokesperson told the Gazette.

Meanwhile, the Gazette reported that CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang has put the  future of its Moscow office “under critical review” while Osborne Clarke will not take on “new clients that are owned by Russian or Belarusian individuals, corporations or by their governments”.

Herbert Smith Freehills also said it will no long act for “certain of our Russian clients and on certain Russia-related work” and Mishcon de Reya said it has “reviewed all existing mandates relating to Russia”.

Other major London firms have also made public statements in response to the conflict, with Clifford Chance saying it will not accept new work from Russian state-controlled entities or individuals linked to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Allen & Overy and Slaughter & May are also reviewing their Russian portfolios, according to the Gazette.

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