BHP Billiton appoints new chief counsel from Herbies

BHP Billiton has appointed Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) litigator Geoff Healy as its new chief legal counsel, succeeding incumbent David Williamson who is returning to Ashurst Australia after three years at the mining company.

Healy has been HSF and legacy Freehills’ client relationship partner for BHP Billiton for some years and regularly advises the mining company on corporate governance issues and disputes. His appointment with BHP Billiton will take effect on 3 June 2013.

The change comes as part of BHP Billiton’s senior management team reshuffle following the appointment of new CEO Andrew Mackenzie in February.

Healy is not the first HSF partner to serve as the global mining giant’s chief legal counsel. Legacy Freehills former managing partner Mike Ferraro took up the position in 2007, later returning to Freehills as a senior management team partner. Ferraro is currently the global head of corporate in the merged firm.

BHP Billiton’s incumbent legal counsel David Williamson will return to Ashurst Australia at the end of the Australian financial year, 30 June 2013. He left legacy Blake Dawson in April 2010 to join BHP Billiton, succeeding Ferraro as chief legal counsel. He has also served as the company’s chief compliance officer for the past 22 months.

Prior to his move, Williamson spent 28 years with legacy Blake Dawson, including 21 years as a partner. He worked in the firm’s Melbourne, Sydney and London offices holding a number of leadership positions in each.

Ashurst, however, is yet to confirm the specific role Williamson will take up on his return.