Legal Business

The Crown Estate

  • Director of business operations and general counsel: Vivienne King.
  • Team headcount: five lawyers.

The Crown Estate is governed by an Act of Parliament that involves funnelling profits into HM Treasury – totalling around £2bn in the last decade – and currently manages a diverse property business valued at more than £8.6bn. Its well-regarded director of business operations and GC, Vivienne King, is responsible for more than the legal side of the business: she also spends a great deal of her time working on sustainability, public affairs, and health and safety matters.

Hogan Lovells global real estate chief Jackie Newstead says: ‘They know what they want, they know how to get there and they do it in a very nice way. Those are the hallmarks of an outstanding in-house team. That’s one of the advantages that a good in-house team gives you: you can get a sensible, experienced view from the team, which translates into a more intelligent instruction.’

Major deals for the team included the formation of a £320m joint venture vehicle with Oxford Properties to develop two super-prime blocks in St James’s Market and Lower Regent Street in 2013. In April, the sovereign property portfolio made greater efficiencies by halving its rural and coastal and Windsor Estate legal panel from four to two. The move saw Burges Salmon and Bond Dickinson re-appointed, while Clarke Willmott and Thomas Eggar lost out.

Head of legal Rob Booth says displaying a good moral code is an important aspect of the team discipline: ‘The legal team is very closely involved with the government and, therefore, the ethics piece. We play a moral compass role within our organisation. That requires the absolute highest standards of ethics because we’re effectively benchmarking an approach across the organisation.’