News International building in WappingNews Group Newspapers (“NGN”), the defendant in the Sun and News of the World phone hacking litigation, has instructed new solicitors, Clifford Chance, to replace Linklaters.

Clifford Chance is the fourth firm of solicitors to act for NGN in the phone hacking litigation. The claims – which then related only to the News of the World – were initially defended by Farrer & Co, NGN’s longstanding solicitors. However, on 14 October 2011 it was announced that

“News Corporation’s management and standards committee and solicitors Farrer & Co have mutually agreed that Farrers will stand down from representing NGN in current or future civil litigation related to victims in NoW phone-hacking cases with immediate effect.”

Farrer & Co, was replaced by Olswang LLP.

Olswang LLP acted for NGN for 5 months but, in March 2012, was replaced by Linklaters who were then the solicitors on the record for nearly 4½ years.

More than 800 claims concerning phone hacking at the News of the World were settled during the period for which Linklaters was acting. However, in April 2016, the managing judge, Mr Justice Mann, made a number of rulings which permitted claims concerning phone hacking by the Sun to proceed ([2016] EWHC 961 (Ch)). At that time there were four claims against the Sun but a number of others have been issued since April. On 29 July 2016, the managing Judge made orders for generic disclosure against the Sun.

On 23 September 2016, solicitors acting for the claimants received notice that Linklaters had been replaced by Clifford Chance.  The reasons for the change of solicitors have not been made public.