Anne Morel: “ Our practice has developed a compliance role as clients try to limit their risk exposure."
The Head of Employment at BSP (Bonn Steichen & Partners) tells us how clients react to an ever-increasing amount of regulatory constraints; hence their needs of legal consultancy in labor law.
LEADERS LEAGUE: BSP’s labor law practice has widened the scope of its expertise in recent years. What was the thinking behind this?
Anne Morel: The needs of the client have evolved. Previously, clients would come to us when legal problems had already surfaced and were in need of rapid solutions, often legal representation before a tribunal. These days we are equally solicited to put in place compliance solutions in response to the ever-increasing amount of regulatory constraints. Therefore, we have seen our practice develop a legal consultancy and compliance role, as clients try to limit their risk exposure.
You primarily act for employers in labor disputes, what sort of representation are they looking for?
AM: We note a certain sophistication as regards their modern-day legal issues in the sense that clients today have increased access to greater amounts of information. They no longer necessarily come to us for raw legal information but require interpretation and analysis. They are increasingly demanding and want not just advice but training too. Therefore, at BSP we offer clients the chance to train on specific subjects, which helps them address their problems in a practical manner. We also train them up on topics generally more of interest to newly arrived employers in Luxembourg.
On top of this, we regularly represent clients before tribunals.
In addition, we have developed a significant data protection practice specifically tailored to labor law. Data protection law now touches all areas of the legal landscape, not least of which labor relations, which is a subject now seeing lots of work with companies setting up more sophisticated background checks, but equally there are a lot of legal ramifications to employee surveillance at work or, indeed, wherever they carry out their jobs.
Your activity is split between providing advice and litigating. How is BSP’s expertise equipped to cover these two areas?
Employers regularly get in touch when they want to put in place HR policies or regulatory solutions to ensure they are in compliance with local laws. We provide them with informed legal advice and help them make the best decisions possible.
We are also hired to advise clients during negotiations in order to help them find extrajudicial solutions to resolve or avoid disputes. Faced with a possible litigation, we advise employers on the probability of finding success through a tribunal. We balance the cost of going to court, taking into consideration the likely length of a case, with the repercussions of finding an amicable solution with the other party in a dispute.
The final decision of the client can now be made after weighing up the pros and cons of each path, such as duration, cost, reputational risk and confidentiality. In light of the current healthcare crisis, the vast majority of issues handled by our practice are linked to remote work and new ways of working as well as health and safety at work and the prevention of mental health risks.