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Isle of Man

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A number of Manx law firms reported a very busy 2015. Banking transactions remained a major source of work, and there were a number of restructurings in the financial sector. In a reflection of the growing maturity of the jurisdiction, some corporate lawyers noticed a rise in instructions directly from businesses based on the island as opposed to referrals from elsewhere. Dispute resolution lawyers found themselves move active in shareholder disputes and fraud cases, while contentious insolvency matters remained common.

Employment lawyers found themselves especially active, not least because of the need to educate employers on the impact of the Equality Bill 2015, which will replace the island’s patchwork legislation.

The chief exception to the general mood of optimism is to be found among commercial property lawyers, who typically reported a stagnant market and few significant transactions.

The legal market remains stable. One potentially significant development was the arrival of Keystone Law, a UK-based firm with a unique model that permits more flexible working arrangements than found among traditional law firms. Gillian Christian, formerly of Cains, is one of several new recruits.

Appleby, which sold its fiduciary arm to private equity firm Bridgepoint in January 2016, remains the largest firm on the island, and the only one with offices in all three Crown Dependencies. Cains also has a large team of lawyers. Behind them in terms of size are DQ and Simcocks, followed by smaller firms such as M&P Legal and MannBenham Advocates Limited, which still handle a broad range of services and take part in significant litigation.

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