Legal Business

Marks & Spencer

  • Head of legal: Robert Ivens.
  • Team headcount: 18 lawyers.

The iconic British retailer has faced its share of reverses of late, with questions mounting over the future of chief executive Marc Bolland amid continuing declining sales in clothing, footwear and homeware.

But as befits this British institution, Marks & Spencer (M&S)’s legal team remains one of the most assured and tight-knit in the UK under the leadership of the unflappable Robert Ivens.

The team of 18 lawyers, who work across employment, marketing and advertising, corporate/commercial, real estate, regulatory, intellectual property and consumer protection, keeps a substantial amount of work in-house despite fielding a very lean team for a FTSE 100 company with revenues of £10bn (when instructing outside counsel advisers include Slaughter and May, Lewis Silkin, Olswang, DWF, Osborne Clarke, King & Wood Mallesons and Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co).

M&S director of commercial contracts Verity Chase was highlighted in our 2014 GC Power List as a rising star, while other rated lawyers include real estate counsel Carolyn Lock, IP counsel Amarjit Purewal and head of employment Patricia Howell.

Key mandates for the team include negotiating numerous franchising deals in eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey, the Middle East and new territories including Finland, Norway and Vietnam.

The team is involved in a long-running landmark case on trade mark infringement, after the European Court of Justice and High Court held that M&S had infringed Interflora’s trade marks through the use of ‘Interflora’ as a Google AdWord. The Court of Appeal last year ordered a retrial in one of the most closely watched intellectual property cases for years.