Legal Business Blogs

Switching sides: HSF’s London litigation head Parkes lands FCA job

Herbert Smith Freehills‘ (HSF) London litigation head Tim Parkes will leave the firm at the end of the year to take over as chairman of the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s regulatory decisions committee.

While the revolving door between US regulators and the country’s largest law firms has been a cause for consternation across the Atlantic, the UK Financial Conduct Authority has yearned to be able to attract such top talent given the salaries it offers and the lack of government-backing that has resulted in a lack of prestige being attached to the roles.

The arrival of Parkes from HSF, where profit per equity partner currently stands at £801,000, is a major coup for the FCA and signals a strengthening of its legal decision-making.

Joining as deputy chairman is John Hull who will leave Latham & Watkins, where he has been a partner for 10 years and was until recently vice chair of the global litigation group. Hull will share the role with Security Industry Authority chair Elizabeth France.

The trio replace chairman Andrew Long and deputy chairman David Ashton, two of the longest serving members of the regulatory decisions committee, as part of an overhaul of the watchdog’s decision-making function.

The changes will see 10 senior City figures join the regulatory decisions committee, following the shock resignation of FCA chief Martin Wheatley in June following the botched life assurance market review that resulted in falling share prices for the UK’s major insurers.

While the committee is technically independent from the FCA, it is the City watchdog’s highest legal function, and decides whether action will be brought against a financial services firm or one of its employees.

Parkes, who will also become chair of the Payment Systems Regulator’s enforcement decisions committee, departs HSF after 38 years at the firm. Since becoming a partner in 1987, Parkes has held a string of management positions at the City firm, including stints as executive partner and Asia managing partner.

Well known for his role in litigation the fallout from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, as companies fought over the remnants of the failed Wall Street Bank across the globe, he counts the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank as clients.

Parkes said: ‘It is a considerable honour to be appointed as Chair of the FCA’s regulatory decisions committee and of the PSR’s enforcement decisions committee and I greatly look forward to the fresh challenges ahead. Having spent the entirety of my professional career at Herbert Smith and Herbert Smith Freehills, I shall miss the firm very much but will take with me the unbeatable experience of having worked with the best clients and terrific colleagues.’

Justin D’Agostino, global head of dispute resolution at HSF, added: ‘In his 38 years with the firm Tim has made an outstanding contribution to our disputes practice and the wider firm in general and we wish him all the very best in his new roles.’