Lee Gage has left Ben Sherman after five years as general counsel (GC) to join luxury lingerie retailer Myla in the same role. His move comes as Monckton Chambers yesterday (3 June) announced the arrival of the Department for Transport’s (DFT’s) former GC Christopher Muttukumaru as a tenant.
While at Ben Sherman, owned by New York Stock Exchange-listed clothing group Oxford Industries, Gage handled licensing issues and was responsible for the global legal function and global rights portfolio for the Ben Sherman brand. His former deputy, Elizabeth Cook, has taken over the GC role.
Gage previously spent five years at Harbottle & Lewis, where he became senior associate, and two years at intellectual property firm Briffa in the early 2000s.
Harbottle and Lewis continues to act as a legal adviser to Ben Sherman on brand licensing and domain name and trademark disputes.
Gage’s arrival at 12-boutique retailer Myla, in a newly created role, coincides with increasing legal risk surrounding retail regulation, branding and competition issues, as retailers also address changing consumer behaviour and a continued pressure on margins.
Eversheds head of retail James Batham said: ‘Out of the recession you’ve seen a number of companies building up their in-house legal teams to save costs but the retail environment is particularly burdensome.
‘One issue retailers face is fighting for brand protection and anything affecting their brand they will throw resources at.’
Muttukumaru, meanwhile, joins Monckton following a high profile public sector legal career that saw him appointed as GC at the DfT in 2011, leading a group of over 90 lawyers advising the DfT and its executive agencies.
Highlights of his career include acting as secretary to Lord Scott’s inquiry into the export of defence and dual-use equipment to Iraq, a role as deputy legal adviser at the Ministry of Defence, where he worked on issues including the negotiation of the statute setting up the International Criminal Court; and as legal adviser to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Paul Lasok QC, head of Monckton Chambers said: ‘Professional and lay clients in a number of market sectors encounter difficult problems in relation to which Christopher, with his background and experience, is uniquely placed to give authoritative guidance and advice. His return to private practice after many years in the public sector fills a serious gap in the market.’