Clyde & Co

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Our history

Our history

On 1 November 2011, Clyde & Co merged with Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, one of the most renowned insurance and dispute resolution firms in the UK and Asia. The merged firm of Clyde & Co and Barlow Lyde & Gilbert has 290 partners, 1,400 lawyers and fee earners and 2,400 total staff operating from 33 offices worldwide.

Both firms share a common, pioneering heritage and a resolute focus on international trade and the insurers that underwrite commerce and individual endeavour worldwide.

Barlow Lyde & Gilbert

Barlow Lyde & Gilbert was founded in 1841 in the City of London and quickly cemented its reputation as the UK’s leading insurance law firm.

In 1880, Cuthbert Heath OBE became a Lloyd’s underwriter and a client of BLG. He is credited as “the father of non-marine insurance at Lloyd’s” and “the first man to see the potentialities of insurance in the modern world.” BLG worked exclusively for Heath for many years, drafting the UK’s first professional indemnity policies and wordings.

Since its beginning, BLG continued to play a key role in the day-to-day life of the London and international insurance markets. Whether handling contentious insurance and reinsurance matters (including ‘bet-the-company’ litigation), dealing with complex non-contentious issues such as alternative risk transfer, restructuring, product development and distribution, or advising on regulatory requirements, BLG has been  at the heart of the insurance industry.

After opening its first office in Hong Kong in 1986, BLG continued its expansion with an office in Singapore in 2004. Other offices also followed, with bases in Oxford in 2008 and Manchester in 2009.

In 2010 BLG acquired Halliwells’ Manchester office, bringing in over 200 staff and 18 partners.

Clyde & Co

Clyde & Co was founded by Richard Arthur Clyde. He came from a distinguished legal family, which in the last century has produced two Lords President of the Court of Session in Scotland. Richard Clyde's nephew, the late Lord Clyde of Briglands, was a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary from 1996 to 2001.

The earliest record of Dick Clyde as a solicitor in independent practice, dates from 1928, although it was in 1933 that having left his position as an assistant solicitor with a well known firm of City marine lawyers, he set up his own office in Lime Street in the heart of the insurance district of the City of London. He managed to attract instructions from Lloyd's Underwriters and insurance companies, and within a short time went into partnership with Maurice Hill, a member of the founding family of the Liverpool solicitors Hill Dickinson & Co, and a descendant of Sir Rowland Hill who had established the penny post.

Reflecting the firm's international outlook, in 1981 Clyde & Co's first overseas office was opened in Hong Kong. Many others followed in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North America.

Michael Payton, who had joined the firm in 1966, assumed the post of Senior Partner in 1984. He, too, led a process not only of expansion but also of diversification. In particular, he brought into the firm its first non-contentious company lawyers, thus broadening the scope of the practice from its previous concentration on marine and insurance litigation.

1 November 2011 - the merger of Clyde & Co and Barlow Lyde & Gilbert

On 1 November 2011, Barlow Lyde & Gilbert and Clyde & Co merged. Grounded in international trade and insurance, the combined firm has unique strengths, offering:

  • One of the top dispute resolution practices of any leading firms in the UK and Asia with global coverage and particular strengths across emerging markets
  • Unrivalled, in-depth sector focus and expertise across both contentious and transactional disciplines in our core sectors
  • An insurance and reinsurance practice with unmatched expertise in every class and across the world’s markets. With the highest number of leading practitioners of any insurance law firm, we provide the international insurance market with unique strength and capability
  • The benefits of one of the largest employment practices of any City law firm together with market-leading teams in corporate, regulatory, health & safety and the environment, global compliance and real estate
  • Expertise delivered from 32 offices around the world with a long established practice in the Middle East, a rapidly expanding presence across the US, Canada and South America and now a significant business in Asia