Linklaters and NRF to shutter Moscow offices in response to Ukraine war

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By Rona Ankrah on


City firms continue to take action

Moscow, Russia

Linklaters and Norton Rose Fulbright are the latest law firms to take action in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Linklaters announced on Friday that “after careful consideration”, it will close its Moscow office and “wind down” operations in Russia.

The firm, which opened its office in the Russian capital in 1992, said it will not act for individuals or entities “controlled by or under the influence of” the Russian state or connected with the Russian regime “wherever they are in the world”.

The magic circle firm also added that it will wind down its existing work, and continue to assist international clients in dealing with implications of the current crisis and unwinding their Russian business interests.

“As the appalling war in Ukraine continues, our immediate thoughts remain with the Ukrainian people”, the firm said in a statement. “We continue working to ensure that our colleagues and their families who are impacted are safe and have all the support they need.”

Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright today also announced the closure of its Moscow office, saying that it “stands unequivocally with the people of Ukraine who are suffering as a result of the increasingly brutal invasion by Russia”.

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The statement said that the international outfit 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”.

The firm will “continue to review exiting from existing work” and where it cannot exit “will donate the profits from that work to appropriate humanitarian and charitable causes”, the statement continued.

The move comes a little over a week after it told its lawyers and staff not to comment publicly on the sanctions imposed on Russia. It later clarified its position, stating it was “standard practice for us to issue internal notices on any developing legal and regulatory issues” but “that this does not in any way prevent members of the firm from voicing any views”.

All four other magic circle players have also released statements on the steps they’re taking in response to the conflict.

Clifford Chance said on Friday it will “not accept new mandates from any Russian state entity, Russian state-owned enterprises or individuals identified as having close connections to President Putin”.

Allen & Overy said it was reviewing its “Russian-related portfolio” and will “refuse” new instructions and stop all Russia-linked work that “goes against our values”.

Freshfields, on Friday, said it had “terminated, suspended or declined” various client arrangements. It also confirmed today it had cut ties with sanctioned Russian lender, VTB Bank.

Finally, Slaughter and May said it will “continue to review our position to ensure we comply fully with sanctions applied to Russian entities and individuals”.

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