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Eversheds head of national licensing Jeremy Philips, who is highly rated in his field, will join Osborne Clarke's property group on 1 May. He follows Eversheds banking litigation partner Nicolas Mehlig, who joins Osborne Clarke this month (The Lawyer, 12 February).
Philips specialises in licensing and regulation work for the leisure, retail and brewing sectors focusing on major breweries, licensed property companies, off-licences, supermarkets and restaurants.
Head of property Simon Spier says: "These organisations tend to be running significant property portfolios, so to have someone with a really heavyweight reputation in the [licensing] area, who is able to tap into contacts at a high level in those organisations, gives a huge amount of potential for other practice areas. As a property lawyer, that for me is the tremendous benefit of this." Philips also advises the Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association.
The hire marks a new direction for Osborne Clarke's property group, which has not previously targeted licensing work.
Spier says: "We've had very limited capability. It's been more reactive than anything else. We've got a retail and leisure client base, but on the whole that sector tends to buy in specialist licensing skills independent of their advisers for corporate or property and the like."
The hire coincides with the biggest upheaval in the leisure industry since the Beer Supply Orders in 1989. A new licensing bill is expected to be presented to Parliament after the next general election. Spiers says: "The new Licensing Act will see a radical transformation of the leisure industry over the next few years, in terms of how it structures its market offering and manages both its infrastructure and its people. We're likely to see a lot of activity in these areas, and Jeremy's arrival will ensure that we have a well-rounded service which is tailored to the sector's needs."
Eversheds' head of operations Colin Brown says: "We were entirely happy for Jeremy to stay with us. However, Jeremy wants to seek a future elsewhere, and he's a Bristol man, so we respect his decision to move on. Licensing, which is Jeremy's expertise, is not a core area for us, but we do hope that Jeremy can take this opportunity to build a more profitable practice with Osborne Clarke in Bristol. He goes with our best wishes."