GDR 100 2023

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Professional notice

London-based Jonathan Kewley deserves credit for the rapid growth of Clifford Chance’s data and tech capabilities: the Magic Circle firm is now one of the strongest UK-headquartered data protection advice providers in the world. That’s quite a feat for a firm that was traditionally best known for its banking and finance clout.

That historic strength in all things financial has not limited the firm. While there are major financial institutions on its books – many of them confidentially – there are also global automotive manufacturers, tech giants, household telecommunications names and more. Alongside Kewley, other key leaders are Simon Persoff in the UK, Dessislava Savova in Paris, Gunnar Sachs in Düsseldorf, Lena Ng in Singapore, Ling Ho in Hong Kong and Devika Kornbacher in New York – the latter joined the practice from Vinson & Elkins.

The firm also appears to have been on a hiring spree from other strong data firms: seven associates and senior associates joined during the relevant research period, among them the aforementioned Kornbacher, as well as partner Zayed Al Jamil from Norton Rose Fulbright and counsel Michael Evans from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Position in the
GDR 100 Elite
Ranking 17
Ranking 8
Other senior lawyers19
Associates and senior associates50
Who’s Who Legal: Data nominees2
Percentage of lawyers in Who’s Who Legal: Data2%
Countries with a data presenceAustralia, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Spain, UAE, UK, US
Key clientsUK Finance, Permira, Vodafone Spain, News Group Newspapers, Gilded, Amundi, Bayview, Legrand, Hilti, Lux-Airport

Work highlights

In Spain, Clifford Chance has advised Vodafone on multiple matters before the country’s aggressive data regulator – including on a matter that has involved the enforcer’s second-highest fine to date over issues relating to international transfers and the use of client data for marketing purposes.

On the private disputes side, the firm has long advised News Group Newspapers in the heavyweight and sprawling phone-hacking litigation in the High Court of England and Wales. The group action has had a lengthy and laborious history, including six vacated trials, nearly 40 case management conferences and a slew of judgments and rulings relating to interim applications. Multiple other cases are at a pre-action stage. In a rare regulatory complainant-side job, a large tech company has tapped Clifford Chance to attack a competitor’s data collection and processing practices around the globe.

The firm deserves credit for its work in China, where its local practice features a mix of international and local clients that range from private equity house Permira to social media giant Tencent. The firm has no data partners on the ground in its Beijing office, but Ho in Hong Kong leads the firm’s Chinese efforts, and foreign partners are often involved too. For example, Ho and Milan counsel Andrea Tuninetti Ferrari advised Tencent on the provision of remote services and cloud software certification in a cross-border Chinese/Italian project that ended in early 2022.

The UAE has generated some interesting work and a mandate that highlights Clifford Chance’s strengths in financial services. Senior associate Arun Visweswaran in Dubai has acted for the liquidator of a Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) entity as it deals with multiple requests from regulators for personal information of the insolvent bank’s clients. The work has included engaging with unique features of the DIFC Data Protection Law that relate to data requests from other regulators. Another banking job has seen Persoff advising UK Finance on behalf of the UK banking industry in relation to a project in the ICO sandbox that involves the viability of anti-money laundering-regulated entities sharing data to detect financial crime, and another project considering the viability of sharing the purpose of money transfers between banks to reduce fraud.

In Paris, sole data partner Dessislava Savova spends plenty of time on weighty international projects. She has advised industrial group Legrand on the worldwide launch and implementation of a project that covers more than 140 countries – requiring the navigation of sometimes conflicting regulations and issues triggered by the use of connected objects. Savova additionally has a hand in CNIL activity and has provided compliance advice to a Chinese bank and a US-headquartered tech company. 

Client references

“Clifford Chance is a truly full-service firm, with an enormous range of expertise. The firm covers all industry areas and is able to respond quickly and efficiently.”

“Expert, practical, proactive, helpful, engaging – a pleasure to work with. A fresh and open approach which is collaborative and cooperative.”

At Clifford Chance, we believe that data management should be a top priority for all businesses.

In today's information economy, data is the new oil. A business' ability to transfer and use customer data and other information is both integral to the day-to-day running of a company and key to profitability and success. With the introduction of new and more stringent data privacy laws, it is important now more than ever that businesses are fully informed and fully compliant.

We have been advising on data law since the 1990s, and continue in that spirit today, working with the world's leading organisations – from FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 corporations, to global banks and financial investors.

Our global cross-practice group of lawyers specialises in data law, including data protection, privacy, data strategy and management, cyber security, information security, banking secrecy and data interception issues. We are set apart by our experience in litigation, enforcement and regulatory investigation, as well as and relationships with data protection authorities and policymakers.

This is supplemented with a keen view on novel and cutting-edge data issues, including data ethics, deployment of AI, data science, data analytics, biometric data and data scraping. We stay at the top of our game in this area, through work with prestigious industry bodies, trade organisations and academics, including the Alan Turing Institute, the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, the Oxford Internet Institute, ASIFMA, UK Finance and the Investment Association – to name a few. In our commitment to furthering the world of data and technology ethics, we also collaborate with Hertford College, University of Oxford (a leading centre on Tech Ethics) on a bursary scheme to encourage greater diversity in Computer Science.


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