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I am a Senior Consultant at Clarkslegal, having previously been a Partner here for twelve years. I am Head of our Public Sector Team, but also act for a number of private commercial organisations across all the areas in which I specialise.
My work is broad-ranging, but generally of a commercial nature. I enjoy hugely developing long term relationships with my clients so that they see me as part of their team, rather than an external legal advisor. I have spent time on secondment to clients, which has given me a real knowledge and understanding of the issues that clients face. My experience allows me to tailor my advice to ensure that it is practical, commercial and proactive. As I spent the first eight years of my legal career as a contentious commercial lawyer, I believe I am well placed to provide a practical risk-based approach when dealing with clients’ matters.
I have a proactive commercial approach to the advice that I give to clients, focussing on the aims and objectives of the business (whether public or private sector), to provide practical legal advice. I view my role as a support to my client, and an enabler of their aims and objectives. Key to this is getting to know the client as I believe it is important to set legal advice in context and fully understand the client’s aims and business objectives.
I have extensive experience in drafting and negotiating contracts, from two-page terms and conditions, to complex contractual arrangements running over many hundreds of pages. I regularly draft bespoke contracts for my clients and am particularly good at using clear, straightforward language to ensure that both parties fully understand their obligations under any contract. I work with my clients to understand the risks that they are prepared to run in entering into a contract and then draft and negotiate the contract on the basis of that risk profile. The better I know the client the easier the process is.
I have drafted and negotiated a variety of different agreements over the years, including project agreements, outsourcing contracts, non-disclosure agreements, novation agreements, variation agreements, warranties, agreements for the supply of goods and services on a business-to-business and business-to-consumer basis, accommodation terms, parent company guarantees and performance bonds, licences, telecoms agreements and general commercial agreements.
Procurement and outsourcing
I work with organisations subject to EU procurement rules and private organisations that conduct their own outsourcing projects, or bid for projects under the EU procurement rules. I conduct audits of procurement departments’ processes to ensure that they are compliant with relevant legislation and operate best practice. I regularly advise clients on producing an efficient, cost effective and legally compliant procurement strategy, the right procurement processes from inception to contract award and post-completion of the contract.
The key to a good procurement process lies in the planning and strategy. I provide cost effective, practical advice for my clients before the process starts, which enables them to structure the process so it is compliant and obtains the best outcome for them. I advise on every stage of the procurement process (both in the public and private sectors) and draft tender documentation, including contracts. I also assist in the evaluation process and internal governance, which approve the process, various stages and contract award.
I generally advise clients to undertake soft market testing before they commence a procurement process, on all but the most straightforward contracts. I have particular expertise in dealing with framework agreements (both establishing them and dealing with issues that arise during the running of those frameworks, and as part of any mini competition process). My focus is to structure the process so that, as well as remaining legally compliant, the client achieves the desired outcome from its process.
Joint working arrangements
When establishing joint working arrangements for both private clients and those in the public sector, facilitating cooperation between parties is key. The first step is to decide on the appropriate structure for the joint working arrangements and then draft documentation to support it. It is important to encourage clients to consider the risks involved at the start of any joint working relationship, as the parties often believe they will be able to sort any matters arising out, because they are intending to work on a cooperative basis. I always find, however, that it is important to consider what might happen if things do not occur as planned, to ensure that all parties know where they stand.
I advise clients in respect of setting up joint committees and sub‑committee arrangements and processes, and drafting associated documentation. I also draft contracts effecting joint working arrangements between public sector authorities and private sector entities. This invariably involves drafting memorandums of understanding, collaboration agreements and inter-authority agreements.
I act for a number of higher education institutions, providing general commercial, procurement and outsourcing advice, as well as advice on joint working arrangements. In addition to the usual issues that one identifies in these types of arrangements, it is important to acknowledge the unique position that higher education institutions hold, crossing both the public and private sectors. I undertook a particularly complex procurement process for one client to find a long term partner to run its student accommodation, which completed in December of 2012 and was the biggest of its kind in the higher education sector.
I have also advised clients in Wales (which has different legislation and guidance to England) in relation to schools reorganisations, and particularly conducting consultation processes for building new schools, and closing schools that are surplus to requirements. This involved advising on informal and formal consultations, the content of reports to executive committees and devolved governments, and advice on federated schools.
I have a long history of providing advice on competition law in the motor industry. I was involved in one of the earlier monopolies and merger commission enquiries into the new car industry and provided detailed advice to one motor manufacturer. I continue to provide general competition advice to clients, and most recently have been working with a client in the motor sector in relation to an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into an acquisition that it undertook of car dealerships.
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