Our financial services regulatory practice is one of the largest and most experienced outside the Magic Circle.

Three of our five partners worked in senior positions at the UK regulators.

Our associates have worked in-house at the regulators; in-house in regulated businesses; or in Magic or Silver Circle law firms – so they are top quality too.

More than half of our teams’ work comes on referral from the Magic Circle, boutique City law firms, and US law firms without a UK regulatory practice – a clear vote of confidence in our ability, our experience, our responsiveness, and the quality of the work we do.

For this reason, our clients (and some of our competitors) think of us as lawyers that provide Magic Circle quality – for a more competitive price.

Financial services experience

  • Advised on the admissibility and categorisation of new debt and equity regulatory capital instruments.

  • Advised an international payment, identity, e-money and banking solutions service provider on various UK and EEA regulatory issues, as well as VISA, MasterCard and other card scheme rules.

  • Advised on how and when to comply with the requirements of MiFID II and MiFIR – internal policy drafting, terms of business, other documents, and other internal systems and controls.

  • Advised on terms of busines for restricted deposit accounts.

  • Advised a UK bank on corporate governance, internal systems and controls issues, to bring the bank’s systems into line with current best practice and to allow the board of the UK bank to meet its legal and regulatory obligations, despite the strength of, and the extent of control previously exercised over the UK bank by, its US parent.

  • Advised IFA networks on regulatory capital and FCA threshold condition requirements. Our role included advising on FCA requirements and providing support on FCA supervisory interactions.

  • Provided insurance policy drafting, including deposit replacement insurance policies for landlords and tenants; as well as GAP; motor; pet; and public liability insurance policies.

  • Drafted complex B2C and B2B payment services agreements for various clients, including for entities providing white label payment services and for deposit aggregation platforms.

  • Advised on reinsurance contract drafting, including aggregate excess of loss; catastrophe excess of loss; and quota share.

  • Provided specialist advice on whether certain activities were permitted (or not) under the terms of an existing banking licence, followed by advice on an application for a Variation of Permission to bring ongoing and longstanding licence breaches to an end without triggering enforcement action.

  • Advised on D&O, life, pet and professional indemnity policies.

  • Advised on internal investigations into actual and potential insider dealing and other forms of market abuse, disciplinary action against senior bankers and reporting to the regulators in a safe, appropriate and timely way.

  • Provided UK and EEA regulatory advice on a high profile acquisition (EUR 35,000,000) of an EEA credit institution by a large South American payment service provider in order that it may provide various services (including merchant acquiring, issuer processing, card processing, instant and delayed settlement and consumer and SME credit services) in the EEA market.

  • Prepared and / or advised on various FCA applications for authorisation of electronic money issuers or payment institutions and provided ongoing payments regulatory advice to the same (including advising on the basis for authorisation, safeguarding, required and breach of regulatory capital, reports and notifications to the FCA, and on T&Cs and other agreements).

  • Advised numerous EEA and international banks and payment services providers on the implementation of the second Payment Services Directive, including ongoing advice on strong customer authentication. Advised unregulated online merchants on the same (including providing detailed advice to clients in the travel and hospitality industry on one-time passcodes, surcharging, and chargebacks).

  • Advised on distribution agreements between general insurers, and between general insurers and their Appointed Representatives.

  • Advised a cryptocurrency exchange on a corporate restructure to de-risk the businesses, the issuance of electronic money, the preparation and submission of two FCA applications and subsequent communications with the FCA; and anti-money laundering issues.

  • Acted for a group of executives within a FTSE 250 financial services company on various corporate governance and market abuse issues and liaised with the corporate governance committee and NEDs. This led to the resignation of the Chairman / CEO and promotion of all other executives.
  • Advised on terms of business for eligible counterparty and professional clients, using our client banks’ MiFID II investment services.

  • Advised pensions transfer businesses on the FCA’s requirements, and responding to FCA enquiries, challenges and investigations.

  • Advised on the correct categorisation of investment firms: in particular, is it operating an MTF, OTF or a regulated market? Is it BIPRU firm or an IFPRU firm and, if so, which type?

  • Advised on regulatory capital breaches – curing the problem, and reporting to the regulator(s) in the right way and on time.

  • Advised Allianz X, the digital investment unit of the Allianz group, on various investments including its Series B investment in SafeBoda, a major African ride hailing platform that also offers various on-demand consumer and payment services.

  • Advised on transactional regulatory due diligence for PEVC funds investing in established challenger banks.

  • Advised on appointing (and terminating the appointment of) Appointed Representatives, introducers and tied agents.

  • Advised a multinational ecommerce corporation and online marketplace on the commercial and regulatory consequences of a group restructure, and providing ongoing payments regulatory and other advice.

  • Advised award-winning, ‘API Only’ technology provider Yapily Ltd on its latest funding round, co-led by LocalGlobe and HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, following which the London based fintech start-up has raised a total of $5.4 million in seed funding.

Financial services FAQs

We can, if there’s something especially novel about it; it’s unusually complex; or there’s a reason to think it might be rejected. If there isn’t, you probably don’t need a law firm, but you might need a compliance consultant.

If the compliance consultants need legal advice about something, we certainly help with that.

We can also help if the regulators ask you to get legal advice about an issue, before sharing this advice with them. For example, the regulators sometimes ask applicants (a) to get legal advice, which explains why they need to be authorised and regulated, and which particular regulated activities they need to be authorised for; and/or (b) to get a legal opinion, which confirms the regulatory capital status of their shares, and any other financial instruments they might have issued. Advice like that is right up our street.

We handle the full spectrum of investigations that occur in the financial markets. We act for firms and individuals in the fields of banking, insurance, investment, payments and fintech.

Our recent investigatory experience includes a wide variety of matters which include: financial mis-selling; serious fraud and money laundering; conduct of business failures (including pensions transfer and discretionary investment management investigations); insider dealing and market abuse investigations (including market manipulation); payment services fraud; and systems and controls investigations amongst others.

We have expertise in acting for any party subject to an investigation in the financial markets. Our clients range from the largest global financial institutions through to national and regional financial services firms. We also act for individuals who may work at or control such firms and who may also be subject to regulatory investigations.

We are one of the few firms recognised in all the major legal directories for our expertise in acting both for corporate and individual clients. We recognise that our specialist service needs to be tailored to our clients’ needs and the resources they have available. We offer a tailored approach to the circumstances facing our clients and ensure the legal and reputational risks they face are mitigated.

We have built a specialist practice that is able to deal with the full spectrum of regulatory and criminal investigations in the financial sector. Our team includes solicitors and barristers who have substantial law enforcement experience and who have been enforcement lawyers, investigators and prosecutors prior to joining our team.

We are regularly engaged in relation to investigations and enquiries brought by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (both regulatory and criminal), the Prudential Regulation Authority, the Serious Fraud Office, various national police forces, HM Revenue and Customs and other specialist law enforcement agencies. We represent our clients at all stages of investigations including scoping, initial interview (whether voluntary, compulsory or under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act) and in subsequent action. Our team has deep experience of attending before regulators, at police stations and before all relevant courts and tribunals involved in the conduct of financial market investigations.

Yes we frequently act for both firms and individuals who are addressing complex issues under the SMCR.

We frequently advise firms on how to comply with the SMCR when complex and sensitive issues arise. Our work includes advising on how to conduct internal disciplinary processes on an SMCR compliant basis. We do this by deploying our expertise in both the regulatory and employment law fields. We can ensure that firms meet their PRA and FCA regulatory obligations whilst acting on a fair and appropriate basis as an employer.

Equally, we can act for individuals who may be subject to internal investigation or are seeking to join a new firm as a Senior Management Function (SMF) holder, or as a certified staff member. We are experienced in dealing with difficult issues and the implications that can arise in respect of adverse regulatory references. We are also able to represent and support individuals who may be subject to investigation for breaches of the FCA’s Code of Conduct (CoCON) provisions.

If you need to know what a particular PRA or FCA rule means; or whether particular arrangements are rule compliant, we can help. If you need help working out how best to respond to questions from the regulators, we can help with that too. We can’t help with routine compliance activities, compliance monitoring, compliance auditing or the detailed design of new systems and controls. We may, however, be able to introduce you to a compliance consultant who can.

We can, but you might not need us.

We usually advise on regulated consumer credit issues, if (for example):

  • A client is designing a new product, and it needs to know whether there will be regulated consumer credit (or not). If there will be regulated consumer credit, we can sometimes structure the product, to get a different result.
  • A client is investing in, or buying, another business and the client needs to understand whether the target is properly authorised, and complying with its legal and regulatory obligations. All too often, we find it’s not, and we’re asked to advise on the risks and consequences of the non-compliance for the target and the acquirer, and the steps that need to be taken to sort things out;
  • A client and its business partners are entering into new commercial arrangements which depend on, or include, primary or secondary credit broking; or primary or secondary regulated lending, and want to make sure the new arrangements are lawful, and consistent with their regulatory permissions.

We draft regulated and non-regulated lending agreements; and our colleagues enforce their terms.

Our financial services regulatory team doesn’t advise borrowers, and it doesn’t give routine advice on (for example) the variation or early termination of regulated credit agreements, or the promotion and sale of regulated lending products.

We’re often asked to advise PEVC fund managers on regulatory matters, including the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD). But we don’t do fund formation work of any kind.

"The firm has excellent partners and associates, all of whom provide a great service."

Chambers UK, 2021

"The Fox Williams team has strength and depth acting for executives and other individuals is some of the most complex regulatory cases in the field."

Legal 500 2021

"Excellent knowledge of the insurance regulatory requirements and very quick to respond."

Legal 500 2021


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