Bell Yard Featured in Lawdragon’s Top 100 Leaders in Legal Consulting

Bell Yard Communications’ founder and director, Melanie Riley and senior consultant, Louise Beeson, both feature in Lawdragon’s Global 100 Leaders in Legal Strategy & Consulting 2020 – out of only 10 UK-based consultants included in the guide.

The guide recognises the top 100 experts in management, marketing, communication and recruiting services, as voted for by legal industry leaders.

See the full list here

#BLM: How to Communicate Diversity in Business

Bell Yard Communications’ founder and director, Melanie Riley, was quoted in the UK’s financial newspaper, Financial News, alongside other PR gurus, on the importance of championing racial diversity in companies that have come out in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

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#BLM: How to Communicate Diversity in Business

Bell Yard Communications’ founder and director, Melanie Riley, was quoted in the UK’s financial newspaper, Financial News, alongside other PR gurus, on the importance of championing racial diversity in companies that have come out in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

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Engaging on race? You’ve got to do more than add a hashtag

“Don’t make any more excuses. Don’t think this doesn’t affect you. Don’t sit back and be silent.”

The white words flash across a black screen. A sombre piano plays in the background. Alongside the tweet, Nike says: “Let’s all be part of the change.”

The killing of a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, pinned beneath three police officers in Minneapolis on 25 May has sparked anger around the world. The surge in protests since have created an urgency around conversations about race and inequality, bringing them to the fore and eclipsing the Covid-19 pandemic headlines.

Read the rest of the article here.

Why Asian CEOs must pay more heed to crisis communication

Asian corporate leaders are generally more self-effacing than their Western counterparts when handling corporate and legal disputes, preferring to keep conflicts away from the public eye. The passive approach towards tackling crisis communications sometimes borders on avoidance and occasional states of denial.

Nine out of 10 Asian companies I have advised on crisis situations over the past 20 years have never conducted “desktop” dry runs on scenarios before they happened, and most have not developed crisis-communications manuals listing essential procedures to deal with key stakeholders in such situations. Of the rare few who did so, few plans spell out scenarios of potential litigation disputes.

Until now, a typical crisis situation among public companies has revolved around a sudden financial loss or write-off, a hostile takeover, a fatal workplace accident or, increasingly, a boardroom fight or a shareholder requisition to remove directors. And, despite the higher emphasis on governance, there are reports of alleged financial wrongdoing at home or abroad by their overseas units, which may cause them to face criminal proceedings.

The default practice has been to seek legal recourse and worry later (usually at the eleventh hour) about how to communicate with the media and stakeholders. More often than not, chief executives of smaller listed companies stick to formal filings to the exchange, or – at best – a press statement and a print interview, eschewing live television and radio interviews.

The cultural fear of loss of face and weak public-speaking skills leave many corporate leaders in Asia ill-equipped to handle the cut and thrust of press conferences and shareholder meetings held to address contentious issues. The tendency to avoid embarrassing situations deters pro-active crisis planning for a potential media maelstrom in the event of dispute or criminal investigation.

Such crises can damage a brand, as well as the market value and reputations of the corporation and its top executives. It is not uncommon for media engagements to be an afterthought to repair damage; such positioning is essentially defensive rather than strategic.

However, recent global developments and trends may soon jolt Asian bosses out of this reticence and passivity, based on expert views exchanged at a conference of the London-based Crisis and Litigation Communicators Alliance (CLCA) held in Amsterdam last month. CLCA members from Europe, the United States, Asia and Australia gather annually to share best practices for handling media communications during litigation and crises.

Three trends sweeping Asia and the developed world are likely to trigger a sea change in this craft and in the main actors – corporate leaders and their key spokesmen.

The first is the growing scale and sophistication of mass action claims as global business becomes increasingly borderless and multi-faceted. The CLCA heard from a Dutch investor group that was successful in an appeal in an Amsterdam court against a major European bank involving a €1.3 billion (S$1.9 billion)settlement.

Such collective action that is led by associations or foundations is increasing. Their stated aims are often to achieve “optimum return” by representing investors’ interests, clustering strengths, exchanging information and “promoting honest and efficient financial markets”.

Tools and tactics include formal representation in legal proceedings, shareholder meetings and consultations, investment study clubs, political lobbying to Parliament and regulatory bodies, as well as engaging traditional and social media.

Beyond championing investor rights, a second trend is the increase in disputes and mass actions involving issues such as anti-competitive behaviour (usually concerning technological disruption or a recent industry consolidation) and those relating to the environment, human rights and privacy.

The publicity generated recently by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg belies a broader trend of mass action which can spill over to claims related to the environment. Such claims can be targeted at governments as well as corporations.

The third trend is the rise of third-party funding (TPF) at a time when Asian nations such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia seek to attract more dispute settlements to their respective jurisdictions. TPF involves an entity not directly involved in the dispute funding some or all litigation-related expenses in return for a share of the recovered sum (30 per cent is an oft-cited figure).

At a seminar on arbitration at the Maxwell Chambers and Suites in Singapore that I attended in August, legal experts cited how the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) is emerging as a trendsetter. Unlike open courts, arbitration is conducted behind closed doors and is generally considered to offer speedier resolution of disputes. Confidentiality is also preserved.

According to SIAC, it handled 402 new cases, with a total sum in dispute of US$7.06 billion (S$9.6 billion), last year.

In comparison, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre – seen as a rival to SIAC – handled 521 cases, with a total sum in dispute of all arbitration cases at US$6.7 billion.

In the same year, Malaysia changed its Arbitration Act 2005, updating its arbitration framework and rebranding the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration into the Asian International Arbitration Centre that promises similar amenities as Singapore’s but “at a fraction of the costs”.

The trend in Asia mirrors efforts of English-speaking commercial courts in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris looking to attract disputes away from Britain amid the Brexit debate.

Last month, Singapore’s Ministry of Law relaxed rules to allow TPF’s reach to extend beyond international arbitration to include domestic arbitration and certain proceedings in the Singapore International Commercial Court. It is a question of time before other Asian jurisdictions do the same.

The confluence of accelerated global business linkages to Asia, the rising trend of mass action to recover economic rights or champion issues, and the colour of third-party money joining the fray of dispute resolution will soon transform the practice of litigation as well as the litigants themselves.

Reticence may no longer be the preferred status quo. To avoid loss of face, it is time for Asian corporate leaders to be more proactive and put on a braver face to protect their own interests better.

Lai Kwok Kin is the founder of regional corporate strategy and communications firm WeR1 Consultants, the first Asian member of the Crisis and Litigation Communicators Alliance. 

This article was first published in The Straits Times on 13/11/2019. 

CLCA’s UK member firm top-ranked for Litigation PR

CLCA UK member firm Bell Yard Communications is delighted to be ranked as a Band 1 Litigation PR firm in the Chambers’ Litigation Support Guide 2019.


The firm already secured a lead ranking in last year’s inaugural guide and has held that position for the second year running. This year, the agency is described as “very effective” and “highly recommended.”



Click here for more information

CLCA’s UK member firm top-ranked for Litigation PR

CLCA UK member firm Bell Yard Communications is delighted to be ranked as a Band 1 Litigation PR firm in the Chambers’ Litigation Support Guide 2019.

The firm already secured a lead ranking in last year’s inaugural guide and has held that position for the second year running. This year, the agency is described as “very effective” and “highly recommended.”

Bell Yard Communications’ Director, Melanie Riley, is also ranked Band 1. The guide says clients describe her as “professional, charming, incredibly thorough and a joy to work with.”

Melanie comments: “Maintaining our pre-eminent position in this important guide for litigators makes us extremely proud. We believe this is testimony to the trust and belief in our counsel, shown by our clients, peers and referrers alike, for which we are truly grateful.”

Chambers Litigation Support Guide is a comprehensive analysis of the leading professional firms who provide support to litigants and litigators in key markets worldwide. Covering asset tracing and e-discovery experts through to litigation PR specialists, it is an invaluable resource for lawyers, GCs and private clients involved in complex disputes.

Crisis and Litigation Communicators‘ Alliance continues its expansion

Czech Republic and Slovakia added as new markets, member exchange in the Netherlands

The Crisis and Litigation Communicators Alliance (CLCA) is pleased to welcome the Czech agency “Marcus and Art” as a new member to its network. The agency with offices in Prague (Czech Republic) and Bratislava (Slovakia) specializes in Litigation PR, Crisis Communication and Digital Marketing. For the CLCA, this partnership opens up new possibilities.

“We at Marcus and Art are proud to become a member of the world’s leading platform for international Crisis and Litigation PR professionals. We look forward to cross-border projects with our partners and representing the CLCA in our two markets,” said Mirek Denes, Managing Partner at Marcus and Art.

Member Exchange in the Dutch Market

The CLCA is also welcoming a new member firm in the Netherlands. At the end of 2017 former Dutch member, Van Kempen Associates, left the network on account of the retirement of their founder from PR and the termination of their business activities. The CLCA is delighted to have found a high-calibre replacement member with the agency HuijskensBickerton. The team of HuijskensBickerton is based in Amsterdam and specializes in Crisis Communication, Corporate Communication, Financial Communication and Public Affairs.

“We have been following the CLCA for several years and are pleased to be the new Dutch member of the alliance. We look forward to future cooperation with the CLCA and the opportunities it can bring,” says Charles Huijskens, Founding Partner at HuijskensBickerton.
Martin Jenewein, Chairman of CLCA and Senior Partner at the Vienna based agency Schneider | Minar | Jenewein comments: “We are delighted that we were able to continue our expansion course and to widen our network. The CLCA is on a growth path and is attracting some excellent new member firms – that is very exciting.”

The Crisis and Litigation Communicators´ Alliance (CLCA) is a global network of owner-managed PR consulting firms who are leaders in the areas of Crisis Management and Strategic Legal communications in their respective markets. Clients can benefit from the collaboration of members on cross-border matters and the CLCA’s specialist expertise in international disputes (especially European Competition Law and Cartel cases, Cross-Border Litigation, Class Actions, Regulatory Enforcement cases, Fraud and Employment related disputes).

CLCA predictions for 2018

We asked three CLCA member firms to give their top 3 predictions of where they see workflow arising in 2018 and here is what they have to say:


Richard Levick, Chairman and CEO of LEVICK our US member firm:

1. Cyber will move into 3.0, where full disclosure is expected and there will be real loss of life, safety and health, not just information. Companies will be more on the defensive than they have been in the past. The question media will ask is, “What was your prophylaxis?” Companies better have a good answer.

2. Continuation of #MeToo targeted reputation challenges against high profile individuals (in the arts, politics, finance, etc) with Wall Street, law firms, and other industries not escaping the heat either. The obvious media question for companies is going to be: “What did you know and when did you know it?” with the potential for reputations to turn toxic if culture is called into question. It will also be important to navigate a path of fairness to the accused as well as alleged victims and other potential victims. HR will be under tremendous pressure to operate with due process.

3. Litigation funding is on the march. Not just in the US but globally. Disputes from fraud cases to divorce cases are now being financed by third-party funds and companies are increasingly striking deals with funders to take litigation risk off-balance sheet. This in turn means funders will have a skin in the PR dimension of cases. Watch this space….


Louise Beeson, consultant at Bell Yard Communications in the UK:

1. Expect more gender equality lawsuits (recruitment, pay and discrimination challenges). Companies in the UK with over 250 staff are now obliged by law to publish gender pay gap information which is proving incendiary at organisations like the BBC, in financial services firms and at certain global law firms. We are likely to see class action cases as well as employment claims from high profile senior managers.

2. There have already been legal challenges against the UK Government about their conduct of the Brexit process. 2018 will be the year Brexit spawns commercial and employment disputes – for example, employment claims from EU employees based in the UK who find themselves subject to discrimination, disputes over business contracts being lost due to Brexit or challenges to insurance policies being changed to take account of Brexit. This one will run and run for years to come, of course, as the detail and practical reality of Brexit begins to bite.

3. With the advent of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, new types of legal case will surely follow. Query will we see tighter regulation of cryptocurrency operators in 2018 with enforcement actions too and will there be a rush of claims from those who experience wrongdoing in cryptocurrency transactions – from fraudulent misrepresentation to fintech fails. This is clearly not just a UK trend. Given cryptocurrencies and their investors rely on various different underlying legal systems, the potential for multi-faceted cross-border disputes is high.


Uwe Wolff, CEO of NAÏMA Strategic Legal Services in Germany says:

1. I predict growing interest in our reputation-management service for the aftermath of a legal crisis. Executives involved in litigation don’t want their name forever tied to allegations or disappointing court judgments, which have reputation longevity thanks to the internet. Given not all online media reports will qualify for the right-to-be-forgotten, there are PR programmes and activities that can help to reposition personal reputation. Insurance companies are becoming increasingly receptive to covering these PR related services.

2. An increasing number of companies are finding themselves victim to deliberate and damaging fake-news media attacks. These may be orchestrated by protest groups, subversive competitors and eccentric hackers through to those with an interest in benefitting financially from such an attack. Companies need the right IT experts and the right communications partners to fight off these attacks and restore reputations.

3. Companies need compliance systems now for monitoring everything from employee behaviour to anti-bribery policies. And ironically these raise the bar for reputation fall-out if there is a compliance violation. The Supreme Court in Germany recently ruled that companies will face a less harsh sentence if their compliance system failed. With every failure comes a communications crisis ….

Professor Dr Patrick Krauskopf becomes Academic Partner of the Crisis & Litigation Communicators’ Alliance

The Crisis & Litigation Communicators’ Alliance (CLCA) is pleased to announce that Professor Dr Patrick Krauskopf of Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and the CLCA have signed an Academic Partnership Agreement.

The CLCA is an international network of independent, owner-managed PR firms specialising in crisis and high-stakes litigation PR advice. The network approached Professor Dr Krauskopf to forge a special relationship to share know-how and best practice, given his strong interest in, and reputation for, litigation PR in Switzerland and German speaking countries.

As well as his role as head of the Center for Competition Law at ZHAW, Dr Krauskopf is a practising lawyer and founder of AGON Partners, known for anti-trust and cartel proceedings.

CLCA Chairman Martin Jenewein, from Austrian agency SMJ Consulting, comments: “Professor Dr Krauskopf has pretty much established and owned the concept of litigation PR in Switzerland. He has developed a unique reputation for using communications in his legal work. Through his lectures and conferences, he has demonstrated commitment to broadening the understanding of litigation PR among the legal community. We are delighted he is joining the CLCA.”

Professor Dr Krauskopf comments: “I am honoured to become the Academic Partner of the CLCA. I am looking forward to meeting all CLCA members and working with them to broaden the concept of litigation PR in Europe and around the world. There will be many areas to explore of mutual benefit and cooperation. “

A first example of this partnership will be the cooperation of the CLCA and Dr Krauskopf at the 3rd annual litigation PR convention in Winterthur, Zurich which he organizes. It is due to take place on 18th April 2018 under the title: „The influence of Trump, Twitter & #fakenews on legal communications.” Further details and registration information can be found at https://litigation-pr.ch

Prior to joining ZHAW and setting up AGON Partners, Professor Dr Patrick L. Krauskopf was, inter alia, Vice-Chair of the Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO).  He studied at the Universities of Fribourg and Berkeley (Master’s, 1991; Ph.D., 1999) and at Harvard Law School (LL.M., 2005). He is admitted to all Swiss courts as well as in New York.

CLCA appoints Martin Jenewein as its new Chairperson

Martin Jenewein, Senior Partner of the CLCA’s Austria member firm, SMJ Consulting, has taken over as Chairman of the CLCA starting January 2018. He replaces Louise Beeson of CLCA’s UK member firm Bell Yard Communications.

Martin Jenewein comments: “I am delighted to take on the leadership role of the CLCA.  I have long been an active and committed member of the CLCA and am passionate about its potential. I intend to further expand the footprint of the CLCA and to help encourage greater collaboration between member firms. I also hope to make the CLCA better known for its unique expertise in the area of Litigation PR. Watch this space! My special thanks go to the dedicated team of Bell Yard Communications and Louise Beeson who were the co-founders of this excellent network.” 

Louise Beeson comments: “It was an honour to head the CLCA for the last 3 years. In this time, we attracted five new talented member firms and launched an enhanced website, hosted several meetings of members to exchange ideas and know-how, and adjusted the membership structure.  During 2017, the Alliance exchanged the highest number of client mandates in our history, with multiple cross-jurisdiction instructions.  I am confident Martin will now grow the Alliance further, taking it to new heights during his tenure. He is a highly popular choice for the role and maintains all our support as he spearheads the CLCA’s next exciting chapter.”

 

Martin Jenewein can be reached at:

Tel: +43 (0) 1 402 17 65-14

Mail: jenewein@smj.at

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Retired Army Colonel Rudy Burwell Joins CLC-A Member Firm Hellerman Baretz as EVP for Crisis Communications & Litigation PR.

CLC-Alliance member firm Hellerman Baretz Communications is pleased to announce that retired Army Colonel Rudy Burwell has joined as Executive Vice President of Crisis Communications and Litigation Public Relations in its Washington office. Burwell has over 20 years of crisis management experience both abroad and in the United States, including serving as the Chief of Media Operations for the Multi-National Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom and as the Director of Army Reserve Communications. For more information, click here.

Judgements of serious consequences in the court of public opinion

Professional article of CLCA partner Roland Binz in the daily newspaper “Der Bund”, Switzerland (only available in German). The article is analysing the increasing influence of public opinion verdicts on the reputation of involved companies and leading figures.

Premier PR Firms Launch First International Communications Network for Litigation and Corporate Crises

Allows Coordinated Communications Strategy Across Continents

(New York), November 16, 2009 – In today’s world, business takes place globally – and so do PR challenges. In recognition, five prominent consulting firms today announced the establishment of an international network to provide clients with seamless crisis and litigation communications support as needed around the globe. The five founding members of the Crisis & Litigation Communicators’ Alliance, each a highly regarded boutique agency specializing in communications strategy in crisis and high-value litigation matters, are based in the U.S. (Hellerman Baretz Communications), U.K. (Bell Yard), Germany (Results: S. Holzinger!), Austria (PreventK) and Switzerland (Roland Binz Kommunikation & Image).

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