Legal Business

Royal Mail Group

  • General counsel: Neil Harnby.
  • Team headcount: 27 lawyers.

The legal team at Royal Mail has had a busier few years than most, with an initial public offering (IPO), a panel review, an inaugural corporate bond and two competition inquiries just some of the work the team has engaged in since the group’s GC Neil Harnby (pictured) took over in January 2012.

The £3.3bn IPO in particular, which included extensive due diligence across 37 countries, the transfer of historic pension scheme assets to the government and the company’s separation from the Post Office – all against a controversial political backdrop – has garnered the team admiration from many within the legal industry. Louise Bloomfield, employment partner at DAC Beachcroft, says: ‘The team was intrinsic to steering Royal Mail through its IPO. It is focused, sharp and consists of technically exceptional lawyers who put the business at the forefront of all that they do.’

Other highlights for the team include non-transactional mandates, such as the crafting of a comprehensive pay and conditions agreement – the first significant legally binding collective agreement with the Communication Workers Union, consisting of 139,000 people. Of the two competition inquiries meanwhile, the first is with a French competition authority over Royal Mail’s subsidiary GLS in France and the second in the UK where Ofcom is carrying out a review into the sustainability of the universal postal service.

Royal Mail’s deputy GC, Maaike de Bie – who led the company’s recent legal panel review – looks after the transactional side of the legal portfolio, while Harnby oversees the risk aspects and overall in-house function.