The total number of deals by top-50 law firms decreased in the first half of 2015, a bellwether index reveals today, suggesting a possible slowdown in economic recovery.  

The latest six-monthly Law Society City Legal Index, covering January to June 2015, shows the number of deals 6.2% lower than in the same period in 2014, though the number increased slightly towards the end of the period.

The index, published in partnership with Legal Monitor, tracks publicised business deals facilitated by the top 50 UK law firms. The Law Society says there is evidence that the number of deals provides an indicator of the direction of future growth in the economy. 

Society president Jonathan Smithers (pictured) said: 'Legal services are used by all businesses and sectors, so the City Legal Index provides a useful overview of the economy and how different sectors are faring. The fall in the number of legal deals in the first half of 2015 followed by the slight pick-up suggest we may see a short-term stalling in the recovery of the UK and international economy.

'The slowdown in China could well accentuate this trajectory.'

The decline in the total number of deals was widespread across sectors but was particularly sharp in the energy and utility sector because of the fall in oil prices.

However deals in the finance and banking, real estate and construction, and manufacturing sectors increased in the first half of 2015 and there is also some sign that the average value of deals may be increasing.