A cadre of general counsel from the UK’s leading FTSE 100 companies have grouped together to create a “business network” that will promote the rule of law in corporate transactions.
The legal chiefs of BP, BT, Diageo and HSBC are leading the think tank, which will be chaired by former BG Group general counsel Graham Vinter.
The lawyers will identify and address specific challenges for both in-house and private practice lawyers and establish rule of law training for boards and senior managers.
Other matters to be addressed by the group include the implications of Brexit on trade and investment in the countries where they operate, tensions between national and international human rights standards, and best practice in public and corporate decision making.
The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law has pioneered the group, which will officially launch today (18 January).
Diageo general counsel Sioghan Moriarty, one of the founding members of the new network, told The Lawyer: “Our aim is to have a positive impact on the communities in which we operate and believe that a rule of law that supports societies is the solid foundation on which thriving economies can develop and evolve.”
When asked what first sparked Diageo’s interest in the network Moriarty said: “If every country had the right laws and principles and court structures, the ability of corporates to do business in those countries and vet those countries would be enhanced and there would be a lot more clarity when we conduct our business.”
Speaking to The Lawyer, co-chairman of the Bingham Centre and former BG Group legal boss Beringer said: “We hope that in the early stages the network will identify a series of issues which the Bingham Centre can work on.
“We will then produce reports to build an understanding that will feed through to creating a better business environment. It wont be done swiftly but we believe that you have to make a start on this now.”
Last October The Lawyer revealed a group of general counsel for tech companies had launched a similar support network.
The group, known as the Disruptive GCs Network, was the brainchild of Lisa Gan Tomlins, general counsel of Made.com and Matt Wilson, European legal director at Uber, the group also includes in-house lawyers from tech and fintech companies such as GoCardless, Secret Escapes, Citymapper, Lyst and MarketInvoice.
The group now numbers around 30 and meet and communicate regularly, swapping market insight, best practice and practical tips about running their businesses.
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