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The tables below rank law firms and in-house legal teams for the FT Innovative Lawyers Europe awards.

Creating a New Standard
RankLaw firmDescriptionOriginalityLeadershipImpactTotal
STANDOUTGarriguesProposed a new reading of Spanish law and led interested parties in lobbying for a new interpretation of the need for original documentation when acquiring non-performing loans. Previously, debt funds acquiring NPLs could not legally enforce the related mortgages without the first certified copy of the loan deed signed by the borrower. The new interpretation allows funds to use a second copy, enabling them to foreclose assets approximately 18 months sooner than before.88925
STANDOUTCuatrecasasThe lawyers found a way to adapt the rules for e-signatures in written documents to ensure the legal integrity of start-up Biometric Vox’s new product, which uses the human voice as an electronic signature. The firm also found a way in which the voice-signature could be built into banking contracts with consumers.88824
STANDOUTUría Menéndez AbogadosDeveloped a model for representing unreported logistical losses in Spanish tile-maker Porcelanosa’s international supply chain, which had skewed revenue figures and led ultimately to it appearing to owe more taxes than it should. After presenting the model to the Spanish authorities and comprehensive negotiations, Porcelanosa won a guarantee of a tax write-off in future years and will take this strategy to other jurisdictions.88824
HIGHLY COMMENDEDDechertEstablished a new method of classifying the tax status of private equity funds in Germany. The ruling ensures that funds can operate from Germany despite being resident in Luxembourg, retaining full control and transparency for the fund and investors.87823
HIGHLY COMMENDEDIntegritesRepresented PJSC Farmak in its dispute with fellow Ukrainian pharmaceutical company Pharmkhim, over the latter’s refusal to supply its client with an antihistamine precursor used to make PJSC Farmak’s allergy medication Diazolin. The firm successfully appealed to the anti-monopoly authority in Ukraine and argued for the recognition of a domestic medical substances market for chemical precursors.88723
HIGHLY COMMENDEDNautaDutilhIn a case that will allow the Netherlands Commercial Court to be used to resolve international disputes, the firm acted for a lender to a distressed multinational manufacturing company. The case was the first application to be filed in a Dutch court in English and heard in English, and — unusually for a private sale in which the buyer and lender were the same entity — the court waived the need for more complex structures to effect the rescue in less than a month.78823
HIGHLY COMMENDEDPaul HastingsAdvised clothing retailer New Look and its owner Brait on a successful company voluntary arrangement against a backdrop of numerous industry failures with the model to enable operational improvements to stabilise the company. Lawyers designed and executed a CVA, unusually, outside of insolvency to rescue the company and triggered a wave of similar rescues for the UK retail market.78823
HIGHLY COMMENDEDWhite & CaseResponding to the 25 per cent tariff imposed on steel imports to the US, the firm helped devise a tariff rate quota, which limits quantities of goods eligible for lower duty, based on historical levels of imports, that could quickly and effectively respond to the resulting influx of steel into the European market. Lawyers analysed historical data to show the measurable impact the influx would have on the European steel sector, winning approval from the European Commission. The quota covers 26 products.78823
COMMENDEDRCDAdvised cryptocurrency investment group Aragon on the development of a “digital jurisdiction” governed by members, who can vote to create or amend laws included in the network’s constitution. A decentralised online dispute resolution platform can resolve issues between organisations that rely on Aragon’s smart contract blockchain infrastructure.77822
COMMENDEDWhite & CaseGave advice on the creation of a single debt-servicing platform for four systemic Greek banks. The banks, realising they often had non-performing exposure to common smaller businesses, pooled recovery efforts into a single portfolio that operates as a single, virtual “bad bank” managed by Italian debt servicer doBank. The single servicer can typically negotiate a more favourable outcome, helping to maximise recoveries and reduce the banks’ non-performing exposure without the loans leaving a bank’s balance sheet.77822
COMMENDEDDechertAdvised Sigma Analysis & Management, Toronto-based investment management firm, on creation of the Sigma Loss Protection Fund, a hedge fund established in Luxembourg with a fee model that radically departs from the traditional two-and-twenty fee structure. Under the fund’s “first-loss” fee model, managers receive no management fee and absorb their own trading losses up to a threshold of 10 per cent in return for higher performance fees of over 50 per cent. The firm secured regulatory approval for the alternative fund structure and novel fee arrangement.78621
COMMENDEDDLA PiperThe firm worked with the government of Afghanistan to draft five new laws and amend three existing laws in order to improve the business environment in the country by aligning existing corporate and insolvency laws with the World Bank’s “Doing Business” indicators.67821
COMMENDEDEllexRepresented Sanobiotec in co-operation with Lithuania’s National Cancer Institute in its application to and negotiations with relevant government agencies, advocating in favour of permitting scientific research activities with narcotic substances in the country. A permit to use controlled substances for scientific research was granted on February 18 2019.77721
COMMENDEDHerbert Smith FreehillsAdvised the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children on the development of its proposals for a new and comprehensive regulatory regime to protect children from lawful and unlawful harms online. Based on health and safety regulation, it drafted a report that has been adopted in large parts by the UK government.77721
COMMENDEDPinsent MasonsDeveloped a structure and reinsurance arrangement for with-profit life insurance policies that would gain regulatory approval and enable the with-profit business to be transferred to Ireland. The structure was developed in such a way that it would remain effective in multiple circumstances, including in the event of a “hard” Brexit, or should the UK no longer be subject to the EU’s Solvency II Directive on insurance regulation.77721
COMMENDEDFenchurch LawCreated an insurance legal product, Fenchurch Law Unlimited, that can be included jointly with the purchase of an insurance policy. Essentially, policyholders pay an additional fee for full legal protection for themselves and the policy in the event of a cancellation or a dispute by a large firm. Previously, only the wealthiest and most knowledgeable policyholders would have any tools to fight back in these circumstances.77620
COMMENDEDVWVAdvising the Alan Turing Institute, which researches artificial intelligence, the firm developed a new model to manage collaborations between universities, technology providers, non-governmental organisations, start-ups and other companies for translational research and development, and other viable projects with a defined and viable real-world benefit. The new model restructures the relationship between parties, with all terms of reference agreed up front, including mandating parties to license their background intellectual property and how shares in final products will be distributed.88420
COMMENDEDHogan LovellsHelped Royal London restructure its pension product offerings after the increase of pension freedoms in April 2015 resulted in a dramatic reduction in sales of annuities. Royal London decided to offer customers increases to their pension savings in return for giving up their annuity guarantees, by way of a scheme of arrangement. The offer required approval by the High Court and by a customer vote and was reviewed by an independent actuary to ensure its fairness.67619
COMMENDEDLatham & WatkinsDevised a plan for Bain Capital Credit, the fixed-income affiliate of private investment firm Bain Capital, to invest in distressed Italian shipping company Giuseppe Bottiglieri. By structuring the transaction as a direct investment without triggering a mandatory public auction, the firm successfully challenged competing offers from creditors and spared the distressed company from insolvency proceedings.76619
COMMENDEDSchoenherr Attorneys at LawAdvised a private company on the tokenisation of its shares. For the first time in Austria the tokenisation of private stock was permitted; a trustee is not required to hold the shares in escrow and the shares are fully tradeable. The firm designed the structure of the new contracts and took the deal through the court process.67619
Creating a new standard (In-house)
RankIn-house legal teamDescriptionOriginalityLeadershipImpactTotal
STANDOUTInternational Swaps and Derivatives AssociationWith D2 Legal Technology, the legal analytics supplier, the legal team are digitising the ISDA’s master agreement. Lawyers analysed tens of thousands of commonly negotiated provisions to map economic outcomes and identify which provisions need further standardisation.88723
HIGHLY COMMENDEDEnergy Charter SecretariatDeveloped a resource for governments and companies party to international investment disputes, guiding them through processes and ways to avoid obstacles to the resolution of investment disputes. The team analysed local legislation for each member state to provide tailored guidance.78621
COMMENDEDCentral Bank of IrelandWith law firm Arthur Cox, the bank’s regulatory decisions unit, a division that has broad regulatory oversight to investigate and sanction breaches in regulatory requirements, conducted its first fully “paperless” court proceedings.67720
COMMENDEDEuropean Investment FundCreated a collaboration model and joint venture to fund the commercialisation of technology-focused projects developed by students. So far, 30 grants have been given to students and four companies funded through the initiative.67720
COMMENDEDRevolutThe fintech company brought its customer-facing banking services in house, simplifying its customer terms and conditions, which has led to a reduction in legal inquiries as the fast-growing challenger bank works to overcome earlier governance problems.67619

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