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Lawyers to the rescue!

Published in Automated Trader Magazine Issue 31 Q4 2013

What's the difference between a lawyer and a mosquito? One's a blood-sucking parasite, the other is an insect.
What's the difference between a lawyer and a liar? Pronunciation.

Almost everyone loves lawyer jokes. In recent years, as regulators got busy and markets got nervous, a common view was that the only people sure to make money from rule changes were lawyers. All of which makes it all the more ironic to see legal figures become market heroes. And in this case, we're talking about lawyers representing politicians in Europe.

When the Council of Europe's legal advisors portrayed plans for a European transaction tax (FTT) as an abomination, it was the nearest thing possible to a death blow to the feared levy.

Advisors used strident words to describe what they saw as fundamental flaws (no doubt delighting Britain and Sweden, which had said similar things all along). But because this little-heard-from legal group became so public and used such language, eyebrows shot up.

One view is the opinion was welcomed - possibly encouraged - by leading European countries, since it provided them with political cover.

"It's a very august, very technically-minded body," said a financial legal expert who spends a lot of time in Brussels.

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