PRESS RELEASE (EMBARGOED UNTIL YOUR FEE PAYMENT CLEARS FOR VALUE)
Hugo de Vertback, Partner and Head of Capital and Private Wealth, Muttley Dastardly LLP – The Vickers Report for Reform of the Banking Sector
In the early morning of Monday 11th April, a group of hitherto unknown men and women – unknown outside City circles – filed into a room for a press conference and released a document which could, in time, be as subversive to the interests of bankers and City lawyers as Gallileo Gallilei’s championing of Cupronickelism: when a large majority of philosophers, noble statesmen and assorted money launderers still subscribed (rightly in the view of the Partners at Muttley Dastardly LLP) to the Citycentric view that lawyers and bankers are at the centre of the universe.
Students of law, philosophy and fundamentalist capitalism will recall that when Gallileo Gallilei later defended his views in his most famous work, Dialogue Concerning the Two World Banking Systems, published in 1632, he was tried by the Inquisition, found (pleasingly) “vehemently suspect of heresy”, forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
It is a matter of some regret that his thought descendants, among them one Sir John Vickers, will not be subject to a similar fate for this latest report into reform of our revered and world class banking system.
I read the article in Legal Week with mounting dismay, which turned to anger when I looked at some of the ‘extraordinary comments’ appended to this ‘article’.
“City lawyers have reacted critically to the Vickers report’s proposals for reform of the UK banking sector, highlighting the potentially damaging impact on the City’s status as a global banking hub.
Key proposals contained within the interim report from the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) include the suggestion that UK banks should ring-fence their retail divisions from their investment banking arms and that there should be increased capital requirements for “systemically important banks”.
The report also concludes that a higher level of competition is required in retail banking, and in particular urges Lloyds to sell off further branches.
The report’s proposals are designed to reduce risk in the banking sector, mitigate moral hazards, decrease the likelihood of future bank failures and promote competition in retail and investment banking….”
While a competitor (and ordinarily I would not, of course, do anything in public to advance the cause of a fellow lawyer), I find myself almost in full agreement with Nabarro corporate partner Alasdair Steele who said: “The ICB acknowledges that implementing its reforms will cost the banks. Shareholders and investors are unlikely to bear the full brunt of these changes so, if they are followed through, we can all expect to pay more for our banking through higher costs and fees and lower returns on our savings.”
These are dark days for bankers and City lawyers. While bankers can f**k off to other countries to ply their profession; global mobility isn’t quite as easy for City lawyers, despite the best endeavours of our empire building forbears. For one thing, the Chinese have cottoned on to how easy it is to train lawyers and are producing millions of them. India already has several million lawyers and appears none too keen to import any from London or even let us in as ‘tourists’.
As to the preposterous suggestion by Robert Van Persie in the comments section in the Legal Week report where he wrote: “I think that City lawyers are the last people who should be moaning about this since they were partly responsible for causing the financial crisis and have never been punished for it. The law is not just something for partners to make money out of – it was designed as a system to govern and protect society. That includes lawyers involved in corporate and banking law.”
“The law is not just something for partners to make money out of” – Good grief. Does Mr Van Persie think that City lawyers studied so hard at university and later on the LPC to NOT make money out of law?
Some will be attracted by Mr Van Persie’s apparently sensible analysis. This is why such thinking is so subversive. There can only be one response to this. Lawyers are merely the instrument of the client’s desire – so long as such action is within the code of ethics, best practice and, of course, we should not forget, ‘the law’. To suggest that we lawyers were in any way responsible for the collapse of the Western banking system and be held accountable along with bankers is, quite probably and possibly, actionable. I have asked my fellow Partner – Dr Erasmsus Strangelove, our Director of Education, Strategy and Psyops - to log onto Lexis-Nexis or Westlaw and refine his thinking on defamation.
As for the totally absurd idea, advanced by Mr Van Persie, that we City lawyers would buy a holiday home in Cyprus on the back of our billings to our revered banking clients – Cyprus? Ludicrous. Cyprus is for holiday makers. City partners do not buy villas in Cyprus. We might try to buy Cyprus – but we would not be interested in the modest returns a villa would bring.
I rest my case. We were only following orders. We have not been punished – ergo, we are not guilty of anything at all. Editors of national newspapers and the legal press should be most careful in publishing any subversive material which suggests that we are in any way complicit in anything. That is all.
Note to Editors:
Hugo de VertBack was educated at Eton, and Oxford. He took a First in law and would have taken more, had he developed the skills for taking more in those early days of his career. Muttley Dastardly LLP is a niche boutique City firm. WE are known as ‘the Silent service’ because our clients know that we say nothing about anything at any time in public about them and regard it as failure to end up litigating commercial contracts or banking documentation in court.
If you would like a picture of Hugo de Vertback – please contact Eva Brown, PA to Matt Muttley, Managing Partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP. We shall do our best to accommodate your request to have a non-exclusive temporary lease of the photographic rights. We take Amex.
With thanks to the following for sponsoring the free materials for students on Insite Law magazine: Inksters Solicitors, Cellmark, OnlineWill.co.uk, BPP University College, David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Wildy & Sons, Camps Solicitors accident claims
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