Specialist US firm Phillips & Cohen is setting up in London to take advantage of what it says is a growing international appetite for whistleblower claims.
The London office, based on Chancery Lane, will focus in particular on fraud allegations in the financial sector, but enable the firm to represent whistleblowers in the UK who wish to bring a case under US 'whistleblower reward' programmes.
The firm will represent its UK clients in lawsuits in the US and will not practise any English law.
The firm says it already has clients in the UK and internationally, and hopes the new office will allow it to build on its existing client base. Last year it represented a whistleblower who was awarded a record $30m (£20m) payout from Wall Street watchdog the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was the largest payment ever given to a whistleblower by regulators.
Erika Kelton (pictured), an attorney at the firm who will be based at the new office, told the Gazette: ‘What we have been finding in the past five years that the international reach of the Dodd-Frank reform [which created the whistleblower programmes] is really quite profound. We are getting a lot of clients from the UK and especially in London.’
She added that it has become clear that the UK will continue to be a robust source of whistleblowing, particularly given the nature of the financial sector in London.
Initially Kelton will be the only lawyer based in the London office, with other attorneys from the firm travelling as they are needed, but the aim is to expand.
Phillips & Cohen exclusively represents whistleblowers in claims involving violations of securities and commodities laws under recent legislation which means that whistleblowers can receive large compensation rewards. It also represents whistleblowers in ‘qui tam’ cases brought under the US False Claims Act.
So far it has won $12bn in recoveries, and more than $1bn in rewards for its clients.
The firm is headquartered in Washington DC and also has an office in San Francisco.