Merck Serono appoints new UK, Ireland head

European pharmaceutical and biotechnology ­company Merck Serono has hired European Aeronautic Defence ;and ;Space ­Company (EADS) counsel Robert Fairless to head its nascent UK and Ireland legal capability.

Fairless, who worked within the space division at EADS, has taken full responsibility for the UK and Irish legal function and has been charged with building up a legal team.

The company was formed in January 2007 via the merger of Germany’s Merck and Switzerland’s Serono and has legal teams based in Geneva and Frankfurt.

Fairless said: “The ­merger saw two medium-sized companies become one much bigger company with a stronger UK presence. The greater size and future plans justify a local in-house legal department.”

Fairless, who trained at DLA Piper before joining EADS, is currently the ­company’s only UK-based lawyer, but says he intends to increase the team’s ­headcount within the ­coming year.

The bulk of the work Fairless will focus on is related to competition, IP and commercial contracts.

Fairless will report to the company’s medical director Dr Gillian Shepherd, who is based in the UK.