CLCA International Summit: reflections from Amsterdam

Despite all the shenanigans of Brexit, Bell Yard was grateful to receive a warm welcome from European colleagues last week at the annual meeting of the CLCA network (Crisis & Litigation Communicators Alliance), held in Amsterdam.

Brexit was, of course, a key topic with other member firms asking how it is affecting our business, our workplace and our families. (Answer – it will probably spurn litigation down the line, but as for many firms, opinion is divided amongst staff and our families on the issue). It was reassuring to hear that the EU will miss us, at least according to those in the room! 

The meeting also dealt with a lot of other interesting topics – for example: 

• The difference between crisis management and crisis communications.

• How far Litigation PR has developed as a concept in different markets – clearly much more so in the US than say, in Poland, but we agreed lawyer education is still required in each market while new trends and developments emerge. 

• Cultural differences influence attitudes to Litigation PR – in Asia there may be more reticence to engage with interviews compared to, say, the US.

• The increasingly prevalent role of litigation funders in the world of disputes across many jurisdictions and how that may, or may not, affect PR considerations.

• Where class actions are on the rise and what PR lessons can be learned from other jurisdictions. 

We also heard from several academics and lawyers whose work overlaps with ours and who offered some fascinating insights – for example:

• English speaking commercial courts in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris are unashamedly looking to attract disputes away from the UK post-Brexit (the B-word again!).

• Some sophisticated corporates look to litigation to advance their strategic and commercial objectives, not just for dispute resolution. 

• In the US there are now professional plaintiffs who buy a product or engage in activity purely to ensure they can participate in litigation.

• We are seeing a growth worldwide in climate-related litigation (not just against governments, but now against investors, companies and insurers) and privacy-related litigation.

• Frivolous class actions are actually rare. 

Bell Yard left the meeting inspired and heartened that we have wise and expert colleagues around the world to call on if our clients should ever require their counsel – from Australia to Indonesia and from Washington to Copenhagen. The CLCA has gone from strength to strength in recent years and our quest for global reach continues!

9 October 2019

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