Ambivalent Germans Fret Over Bribery Rules As Freshfields Launches London 2012 Tie-Up

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By Alex Aldridge on

Last night, with just 99 days to go to the London Olympics, Anglo-German law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer held a glitzy party featuring trapeze artists and BMXers to celebrate its £10 million sponsorship of the 2012 games.

The hitch with the biggest law firm sponsorship deal in history?

Freshfields lawyers form a "magic circle" around their in-house trapeze artist

First, the hundreds of Germans at the firm – which is the product of the 2000 merger between the City’s Freshfields and German pair Deringer Tessin Herrmann & Sedemund and Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Löber – are struggling to get into the whole national pride thing of sponsoring a British-based Olympics.

“It is always nice to enjoy an Olympics,” one told me last night, as he stared blankly at a BMXer (pictured), his sombreness in stark contrast to the patriotic pride-fuelled excitement exhibited by London chief Tim Jones as he smilingly worked the room.

Second, the new Bribery Act rules mean Freshfields is nervous about giving away to clients the thousands of freebie corporate hospitality tickets it has got as part of its sponsorship deal. Under the act, providing gifts of “lavish” entertainment is outlawed.

“We may well have some spare tickets going,” a Freshfields partner told me last night. Happy days ahead for the firms’ trainees and associates this summer…

Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to make do with freebies like this lovely London 2012 mug out of which I’m proudly drinking my lunchtime coffee.