Power regulator recruits first general counsel from Simmons

The authority regulating gas and electricity has recruited its first general counsel from City firm Simmons & Simmons.

Leading competition and energy law partner Charles Bankes will join the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) for two years on secondment to establish the role.

Four firms – Simmons & Simmons, Denton Wilde Sapte, Nabarro Nathanson and Maclay Murray & Spens – are currently on the regulator's panel. Bankes does not envisage any change to that panel, but says the office will be undergoing a lot of upheaval.

Ofgem is the result of a merger between the electricity regulator Offer and the gas watchdog Ofgas last year.

Bankes says: “The law is changing very rapidly. Ofgem has been given significant new powers under the Competition Act which comes into force next week, and the Utilities Bill before Parliament aims to reform the regulatory regime.

“With new powers, new responsibilities and new duties there will have to be more legal input.”

The office currently has eight in-house lawyers, and it is likely that that number will increase.

Bankes has been adviser to Ofgas in his role at Simmons for the last five years. His competition work has included advising Wal-Mart on its merger with Asda and he is currently acting for Vivendi in relation to the investigation into its acquisition of a 24 per cent stake in BSkyB.