OFT to create top legal position

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to create a powerful new legal role in senior management following a wholesale review of its internal legal services.

From the end of June, the regulator will have a top lawyer reporting directly to chairman John Vickers who will have overall responsibility for all 90 OFT lawyers.

Currently, the OFT’s 42 lawyers are led by legal division director Pat Edwards, who is due to retire in two months. The other 48 lawyers are dispersed throughout the OFT and do not have a single legal reporting line.

The review of internal services assessed how the OFT could use its legal resources more efficiently. Following a decision to create a new post of solicitor to the OFT, the regulator poached the Competition Commission’s chief legal adviser Brian McHenry.

A OFT spokesperson said the change was to “ensure the OFT has high-quality and timely legal advice”.

The OFT has recently had a series of decisions reversed by the Competition Appeals Tribunal.

McHenry’s appointment should make the OFT’s decision-making more robust.