Legal Business Blogs

In-house: SSE launches first panel review as Balfour Beatty GC departs after just six months

Big Six energy company SSE is reviewing its legal panel for the first time since setting up its debut roster in 2014, while the general counsel (GC) of construction company Balfour Beatty has left after just six months.

SSE appointed Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Addleshaw Goddard, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswan, Osborne Clarke, Gillespie Macandrew, Thorntons and Kennedys to its inaugural panel five years ago, under the directorship of legal head Liz Tanner (pictured), who featured in this year’s GC Powerlist.

Tanner runs a legal team of 75 and before 2014 had no formal panel in place, working with about 30 external agencies for legal support. SSE’s panel review is expected to be completed by early 2020.

The legal team has seen some upheaval in recent times. Tanner reclaimed her role as group GC at the beginning of the year after delegating her legal duties to Stuart Waddell, previously head of legal for wholesale and corporate, on a 12-month interim basis while she managed a failed tie-up that was on the cards in 2017 between SSE and npower. The legal team was also last year heavily involved in SSE selling a 50% stake in its telecoms business to Infracapital for £380m in a decisive deal which reduced the company’s debt.

Elsewhere, former Tesco legal head Jonathan Lagan has quit his role as GC of UK infrastructure group Balfour Beatty less than six month after taking up the post.

The departure sees Lagan’s predecessor, David Mercer, return as interim GC at the company while it finds a replacement. Mercer retired earlier in the year after eight years at the company, ahead of Lagan’s appointment in January.

A Balfour spokesperson said Lagan’s short-lived departure was a ‘routine management change’: ‘Jonathan Lagan left Balfour Beatty in the summer. We are currently exploring how we will replace the role.’

Lagan was bought in to spearhead Balfour Beatty’s UK and US legal teams and work on the other side of the table from longstanding advisers Pinsent Masons, who last year extended a sole provider mandate with the company until 2020.

Lagan spent a decade at Tesco in various legal leadership roles and was replaced at that company by property legal director Faye Goss.