I work in the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and infrastructure practice, which comprises three partners and eight other lawyers, focusing solely on transactions in the PFI and infrastructure sectors.
Tel: +44 (0)121 685 3882
Best brains in ...
I have been working in PFI since its conception but I also understand the rail sector very well, having been seconded to one of the rolling-stock owners at the time of rail privatisation and subsequently devoted much of my career to understanding railway law.
Highlight of your career so far?
There have been many, but if I had to choose one it would be advising a major airport operator on the introduction of a new train service linking the capital to Heathrow. The new service will assist in moving commuter and leisure traffic from the roads around Heathrow and in doing so will contribute to a reduction of the environmental impact of air travel. My role was to draft and negotiate the several legal agreements involved, without losing sight of the client's overall objective which was to deliver the new service by 1 April (the Department for Transport's deadline).
Most challenging job you've ever done?
From a technical point of view the advice we have been giving a client on the Crossrail project has been the most complex. It has involved the interpretation of new legislation (passed midway through the project) as well as the provision of specialist rail legal advice, all against the background of a hybrid bill in which the Government is seeking overriding powers to implement the project. In this context, helping to deliver the client's objectives has required navigating a complex legal and practical web.
What about outside the UK?
I have worked on infrastructure projects in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Greece, Zambia and elsewhere, so international work is part and parcel of what we do in our team. Clients don't mind where you are based, what they want are excellent and pragmatic lawyers who understand how to solve the problems necessary to make projects happen - that is what we do, regardless of jurisdiction.
What's your definition of going the extra mile?
In advising on major infrastructure projects, I have found that some of the most important contributions to achieving the client's objectives are often the smallest. So, for example, we have provided laptops, printers (and food!) for clients camped in our offices for days on end as the final negotiations are concluded. On another occasion I had agreed with a client in an all-night completion meeting that they could call at the point in the night when my part of the transaction was being concluded so I could 'sign-off' on the wording (one sentence). I kept my mobile by my bedside table and they duly called around 4.15am - I switched on my laptop, reviewed the wording, advised it was ok and went back to sleep!
How do you get under the skin of a client's business?
Understanding our clients better is a fundamental part of what we do. Sometimes that involves sitting down with them formally to conduct client service reviews. More often than not though, understanding clients better is about taking any opportunity to find out about their business, whether through reading about them in the press or just taking the opportunities as they arise to chat to them about what they are up to.
What's been written or said about you that you're most proud of?
'Commercial and pragmatic - a good guy to have on your side.' (Chambers UK)