City firms are making contingency plans and have set up ’war rooms’ to help clients prepare for the outcome of the EU referendum as the UK prepares to head to the polls tomorrow. 

Magic circle firm Clifford Chance, one of the few firms to have stated openly that it is backing Britain remaining in the EU, will set up a 24-hour hotline.

The ‘Brexit rapid response unit’ will connect a ‘core team’ which will give specialist advice across the firm’s offices in Europe Asia Pacific and the Americas.  

Malcolm Sweeting, senior partner at Clifford Chance, said: ‘The facility will be staffed from the opening of the polls for as long as necessary to ensure we can quickly and effectively respond to the needs of our clients, wherever they are based.’

Dechert has also set up a Brexit hotline for clients and will host a webinar next Monday in the case of a vote for Brexit.

Miriam Gonzalez, co-chair of the firm’s international trade and government regulation practice, said: ‘If Brexit does indeed take place there will be enormous legal uncertainty. Clients will need to react to questions from employees, shareholders and investors, as well as assess which areas of their businesses would be most at risk.’

Linklaters has said it will have partners on standby overnight to help clients with any inquiries, such as trading risk, liquidity issues and next steps. According to the firm's statement, the team of partners, associates and support staff will be equipped with access to TV and market news to manage incoming queries.

The firm’s global practices and sectors have also assessed the impact of a vote to leave, and has been developing contingency plans. It has set up a designated central hub which will act as the firm’s ‘nerve centre’ to coordinate its response to the outcome.

Allen & Overy has scheduled a call for clients on Friday in the event of a leave vote to outline the key issues they should focus on. The firm says that around 550 clients have so far registered, with the number growing. A working group focusing on Brexit has developed detailed analysis on the likely impact to help clients plan contingencies, and has advised clients to prepare a day one action plan addressing the key issues their business will face the day after the referendum. 

Martin Coleman, competition partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, told the Gazette that it has a ‘specialist Brexit team’ who will be available early Friday morning to advise on the outcome of the referendum.

Meanwhile Simone Pearlman, head of legal knowledge at Herbert Smith Freehills, said the firm has set up a dedicated task force of around 40 people globally who will be available 24/7 from now until next week. The firm also has an EU exit working group, which it set up last March, advising clients on the legal and business implications of a Brexit.


For all the Gazette's coverage on the EU referendum, please click here.