The Bank of England has a network of agents based across the country, who gather insights into all sectors of the economy through their confidential discussions with businesses and community organisations. Those insights help to inform policy making, for example, the Monetary Policy Committee’s interest rate decisions.
Lai Wah Co, one of the Deputies at the Bank of England’s Greater London Agency, recently met with a team of lawyers at Sherrards for the third year running, to hear how business is doing for them as a firm and also for their clients. She was grateful to Sherrards for sparing the time to discuss such a wide cross section of their business, including residential property demand and inward foreign direct investment. She noted that “it’s great that Sherrards appreciates the important work that the Bank of England does and is able to offer valuable insights into what is happening in the economy right now”.
Asha Ngai, a property partner specialising in overseas investment into the UK, commented: “I experienced my first career recession in 2008. After the initial panic, I realised that investors are always looking for opportunities even when the market is tough. Our clients, by and large, appear to be taking the same attitude to BREXIT, looking for investment opportunities regardless of the uncertainty which exists. More often than not the cost of buying in sterling is lower and so, despite the changes in tax and stamp duty, bricks and mortar is still seen as a safe long-term investment choice.
Geraldine Fabre, a corporate partner focussing on European investment work, being dual British & French qualified, and the firm’s designated BREXIT partner, reported that: “The picture is a mixed one. Yes, many bigger deals and transactions appear more likely to be on hold on a ‘wait and see’ basis but we also are seeing a number of European businesses open up representative offices in the UK and recruit staff for them. There is no doubt that I’m hearing that Britain is seen as a more volatile market just at this moment but, even so, there is a sentiment that the UK is still fundamentally a lot more stable compared with many regions – including parts of the Eurozone. Personally, I’m also watching out for what happens in the European Parliamentary elections on 23rd May even though that seems like a life time way.”
Jean-Paul da Costa, head of corporate, explained to the Bank: “We are seeing a lot more clients engaging in contingency planning and we are being asked to advise our clients on a host of scenarios which may emerge from BREXIT, with an upsurge of enquiries for our mployment (i.e. labour law) and immigration teams. This is a certainly a lively time for lawyers!”
Paul Marmor, head of litigation and international services, added: “As a firm we are attracting some great commercial disputes work, especially from jurisdictions such as Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, where Britain is really respected as a jurisdiction of choice with a first-class judicial system and first-class legal infrastructure. We are positioning our firm to be as outward facing as possible with members of our international team travelling and working in most regions of the world this year.
“As a firm, we are more than a little chuffed to be able to provide the Bank with a ground level perspective from a business standpoint on confidence levels and the mood out there. That’s whether we are expressing our own or collective views as lawyers, but also sharing the feedback from our clients, friends and contacts. This is the third year in a row that we have been engaged in this exercise and we especially recognise that in this current climate this is a very real responsibility to discharge, given the enhanced importance of this fact-finding process with the economy and prosperity of Britain at stake.”
For more information about Sherrards banking team and/or to provide intelligence and feedback to The Bank of England through our relationship contact Paul Marmor head of litigation and international services on +44 207 4289010.