23 Jun Hidden Assets
William Kimberley talks to international lawyer Simon Vumbaca about the merits of having access to good legal advice at all times
TEAM principal, chief engineer, head of aero, engine director, pit crew chief, team manager and the drivers are just the tip of an iceberg when it comes to those involved in a professional motorsport team at whatever end of the spectrum it is.
While we typically think of the engineers and mechanics and the marketing and media folk, there is a whole raft of people who manage things behind the scenes without which a team would not function. This includes the finance and accounts people and human resources. However, there is yet another component that is vital in the day-to-day running of a team, although often flying way under the radar, and that is the lawyer – and the motorsport lawyer is a special breed of it.
Having access to a legal representative is not the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about a motorsport business whether it’s a team, a circuit, a regulatory body, a driver or a sponsor, but actually, to participate professionally in any shape or form in motor racing unquestionably needs the services of one. However, it’s not really a question of visiting your local solicitor. The motorsport industry is so diverse, so varied and so international that it would be beyond the wits of most high street advocates to deal with it. This is where the likes of Simon Vumbaca and ASV Law enter the scene.
Italian by birth, with professional experience in France, Spain and the UK, his practice is located in the heart of London. Vumbaca is a lawyer who decided at an early age that he wanted to specialise in sports. A member of the British Basketball League Executive Committee, BBL Foundation, and Legal Counsel Partner of the World Trade Centre London, he is also a licensed agent and acts on behalf of football agents worldwide. ASV Law is also a member of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association and helps people put brands together to extract brand equity through contracts. It is also equally present in the music and entertainment industries.
After heading-up several international legal teams at other practices, he decided to set up his own firm, ASV Law, a few years ago. In spite of its relatively short life, it can boast a client list that includes the likes of the FIA and FIM, Formula 1 circuits and teams, plus MotoGP drivers along with athletes, football agents, high-profile individuals, and governments.
Vumbaca specialises in helping individuals and bodies maximise their commercial value while also protecting their interests. When it comes to motorsport, all aspects are covered, such as event sponsorship, the maximisation of media and marketing rights, the drafting and negotiation of rules and regulations for series and competitions.
”The breadth of our client base and industry connections built up over the years means we are able to see a case from many angles so when it comes to contract and other negotiations, our perspective is invaluable,” he says. “We are also known to handle delicate and urgent situations where significant individual and business financial and reputational damage are threatened as can often happen in motorsport.”
Vumbaca makes it clear that he is not one of those lawyers who are desk-bound, but is prepared to travel with his client if the situation demands it. “We are in an industry
where teams will spend their night working without sleeping if required, so how can I be a pompous lawyer always sitting behind my desk during office hours only?” he
asks. “What is required is an international knowledge and being prepared to jump on a plane whenever necessary. Sharing the client experience has really added to my own knowledge, which in turn helps them succeed in achieving their goals.”
All this implies that Vumbaca and ASV Law specialise in high-end clients, whether it be nation states or multi-million-pound race teams and regulatory bodies, but he makes it clear that his services are available to everyone. “You don’t have to be the biggest team, but if you are committed to become one, then it becomes a collaboration where I am almost a partner and happy to assist. At the end of the day my job is to make it easier for my clients, protect them whilst making sure all avenues to make them successful are explored and that we extract revenues from all possible angles.”
With decades of experience in the motorsport industry, ASV Law and Vumbaca can advise clients on the best way forward, furthered by an understanding of the lawacross the world. As an international lawyer with experience, which is very hard to find but absolutely crucial for a client with international operations, it is no wonder that ASV law and Vumbaca are in high demand.