Sean McGovern – Lloyd’s of London


Sean McGovern

Director of North America and general counsel

Lloyd’s of London


Sean McGovern was initially brought in to do finance work at Lloyd’s at the age of 26. Since then, he has been responsible for all the regulatory and government issues for Lloyd’s, and three years ago he took on the task of promoting and protecting Lloyd’s business interests in the US and Canada.

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Kelvan Swinnerton – Canada Life


Kelvan Swinnerton

Head of legal

Canada Life


Kelvan Swinnerton is known for solving problems quickly. Having been a partner at insurance firm Kennedys for the best part of a decade, one private practitioner says of him: ‘Kel has a very sharp legal mind, which he couples with a drive to resolve problems proactively and practically – he always has an eye open for the most sensible solution. He also manages to maintain a lively sense of humour.’

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Kenneth Underhill – ACE European Group


Kenneth Underhill

Senior vice president and general counsel

ACE European Group


Kenneth Underhill admits that he is no easy taskmaster. He describes himself as ‘tough but fair – and of course ever busy’. As such, he expects both his in-house and external legal teams to have a thorough understanding of the insurance industry. As one insurance partner says: ‘He expects outside counsel to reflect ACE’s own innovative and commercial approach.’

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Kirsty Cooper – Aviva


Kirsty Cooper

Group general counsel and company secretary



Kirsty Cooper manages a total of 270 individuals, half of whom are based overseas. This includes all the lawyers and chartered secretaries across the group. In 2011, the company spent a whopping £60m on its legal spend, excluding any UK-based general insurance claims. Of this, half was spent on external law firms.

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Humphrey Tomlinson – Direct Line Insurance Group, RBS Insurance


Humphrey Tomlinson

General Counsel and company secretary

Direct Line Insurance Group, RBS Insurance


With 20 years’ experience advising on legal risk management, corporate governance and commercial issues, and noted for his ‘calm good sense and his tremendous judgement’, Humphrey Tomlinson knows his stuff. He heads a legal team of 40 and a company secretariat team of about six at Direct Line.

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Geoffrey Timms – Legal & General Group


Geoffrey Timms

Group general counsel

Legal & General Group


Geoffrey Timms considers himself an unconventional manager of a highly qualified team. He hates bureaucracy and regimentation and above all, babysitting. He likes proactive individuals who strengthen relationships, work independently and exceed targets. This also applies to the external firms he uses. ‘I like working with lawyers who understand how we work and approach issues, who go the extra mile bearing in mind all risk factors,’ he says.

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Edward Davis – AXA UK


Edward Davis

Group general counsel



Edward Davis has made his mark at AXA UK. He established the French insurer’s first global legal panel as part of its ‘Ambition 2012’ strategy launched back in 2004. This panel comprises 12 firms fighting over the £3m AXA spends on law firms every year.

Davis has grown his legal in-house team to 40 lawyers and manages the group legal department, group secretariat and the UK compliance team.

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