As global head of legal at Shell, Beat Hess has certainly made his presence felt since joining the Anglo-Dutch oil company in June 2003. After appointing four new senior legal heads, he then centralised the legal department in The Hague, summoning almost half of the London team to the Dutch capital.
The reorganisation preceded the oil reserves scandal that was to dominate 2004. The overstatement of its reserves has just boosted the role of Hess and his legal team. An independent report by Davis Polk & Wardwell highlighted the need for the legal team to be more visible. Hess had already said as much to Shell’s committee for managing directors in a report he made on taking charge.
With a High Court appearance due in February, Hess can expect the legal department to maintain its current high profile.