WINNER

Client Partner of the Year

Andy Ryde - Slaughter and May

2014 was a particularly challenging year for RSA. In particular, the discovery of major accounting irregularities in the group's Irish business led to the CEO leaving and a need to raise capital quickly, generating much corporate and restructuring activity.

Slaughter and May partner Andy Ryde played a key role in guiding the company through this demanding period, advising on both legal and strategic matters and playing a key role in helping to restore RSA’s fortunes. Ryde led on a £773m rights issue which provided fresh capital and shored up RSA’s balance sheet. He also oversaw the sale of its Baltic and Polish businesses and advised on a major internal corporate reorganisation project. Most recently, Ryde has advised the secretarial team on the annual report and accounts and notice of AGM.

Ryde has been deeply embedded within RSA’s head office functions since 2003. As well as knowing the board first hand, he knows the legal and secretarial teams very well and has also worked with the other central functions, such as investor relations, finance and corporate development. Ryde has made a point of catching up with RSA in between these formal meetings to understand what is happening with the company and to develop further the relationship. In short, Ryde, always available to provide timely, pragmatic and sound guidance, is RSA’s go to lawyer for public company queries of any description.

Runner up
  • Angus McBride - Kingsley Napley

Kingsley Napley partner Angus McBride had overall responsibility for the representation of former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks during her Old Bailey trial last year. It was, in effect, the defence of three cases: perverting the course of justice, phone-hacking and corruption. McBride's work was truly exceptional in a trial that placed him and his team under unprecedented pressure, both legally and strategically, facing intense public and political scrutiny whilst under the incessant glare of the media spotlight.

McBride was the main support for the client personally and led Kingsley Napley’s 21-strong team and three counsel. The team had a formidable task. Throughout McBride helped keep the team performing to an exceptional standard and co-ordinated the preparation of the widely lauded two-day closing speech. Brooks was acquitted on all counts.

Third place
  • Richard Egan - Tuckers Solicitors

Richard Egan was instructed by Investec Bank to represent the wife of its employee Gary Clarence, who had been charged with the murder of their three severely disabled children. The defence case centered on Tania Clarence’s mental health at the time of the killings.

Mental health issues in criminal proceedings are complex and need to be handled with great care, skill and experience. Egan’s sensitively prepared defence case ultimately ensured that Tania entered a plea of manslaughter. The Crown agreed, dropped the murder charges and accepted the pleas on the grounds of diminished responsibility. It also agreed to a hospital order rather than custody.

The medical professional and social services are now conducting a full review of their procedures and policies to try and ensure such a scenario is never repeated.

Shortlisted
  • Helena Berman - Maurice Turnor Gardner
  • Candice Chapman - Dentons UKMEA
  • Darren Isaacs - GQ Employment Law