With a wide variety of experience, including PFI, PPP and regeneration, I advise on the structuring and implementation of complex development projects, particularly involving transport infrastructure, housing and renewables.
Tel: +44(0)121 214 1082
Best brains in ...
Spotting the pros and cons of project structures, pulling all the strands of a complex project together, and making sure the whole web of agreements is put in place in time to deliver a co-ordinated result.
Highlight of your career so far?
Leading a team that negotiated and implemented (over the course of seven years) the agreements for London Underground's interface with the Network Rail Thameslink upgrade project. The project was, after Crossrail, the biggest rail project carried in the UK since the Channel Tunnel.
For the Underground it involved a constant flow of activity, including the complete rebuilding of Blackfriars station, major works at Farringdon and London Bridge, the closure of national rail services on the Moorgate branch, the adoption of former Kings Cross Thameslink station, and interfaces with the Shard, New London Bridge House and bus station redevelopments at London Bridge.
Most challenging job you've ever done?
Picking up the partially agreed documentation for an NHS keyworker housing DBFO (Design, Build, Finance, Operate) scheme one Sunday in mid-November, with an end of year completion date after eighteen months in procurement, after our client's relations with their previous lawyers broke down. The NHS Trust couldn't believe the change would not ruin the timetable, as we still had to finalise the project agreement and create all the subcontracts. I read through the papers all day Sunday, attended the first meeting on Monday, got the team motoring and it was all signed by Christmas Eve.
What about outside the UK?
My clients have always included significant businesses which are run from outside the UK. Working for them I have frequently had to explain in lay terms the often very fundamental differences between English law and that of their home jurisdictions, or to assist their UK management in providing those explanations.
Best example of a creative legal solution?
I was working for a client on a long-term privately financed housing project which hit an impasse on affordability because of constraints on rent inflation. The financial model was not my document, but the rent constraints on initial rents and indexation provisions were in my text. By looking at the two together with the model I was able to propose that by dropping the initial rent but allowing greater rent inflation the project income could be increased by more than the additional cost of finance, and the project made viable again.
How do you get under the skin of a client business?
For clients the law is not a joy, but a necessary evil, or at best a tool that they use in achieving their goals. Once you understand that, you're half way there. If they know that you're as interested in their business as you are in their work, better still. That seems simple, but I talk to them about what they're doing - not just what I am working on - what they're planning and who they would like to meet. The further you get from the people that normally talk to the lawyers, the more you will probably understand what it is all about.
What's been written or said about you that you're most proud of?
My team at my last firm was quoted as offering 'excellent levels of service' (Legal 500 South-east Projects and Energy 2011). In a service industry, that's a lot of what we're about.