ShopSmart hires legal chief for panel review

Retail website ShopSmart. com is recruiting its first head of legal and reviewing its international panel of law firms, while it pushes into Europe.

The UK-based online shopping search engine is taking on Field Fisher Waterhouse senior assistant Michael Helmer to head the newly-created legal department.

As part of his remit, Helmer will reconsider the company’s relations with its two main external advisers – Ashurst Morris Crisp and Mishcon de Reya.

He will also review the firms that ShopSmart uses on the continent as its business expands into Europe, specifically in France, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands.

The expansion will enable ShopSmart to compete with an increasing number of rivals, including France-based Kelkoo, which recently expanded into the UK with its acquisition of Shopgenie.

ShopSmart has outposts in Sweden and Germany, but Helmer says that it is too early to say how big the in-house team will become.

He says: “ShopSmart is currently using lawyers in the various countries where it is active and there is potential for some pretty quick growth. I am still in the process of assessing what’s going on.”

He adds: “A natural part of setting up an in-house operation is to look at the legal services you are being provided.

“Part of the idea is to take a larger part of the operation in-house, but they [Ashursts and Mishcons] will continue to have a role in the operation of the business.”

Mishcons mainly advises on commercial start-up work for the company, while As-hursts provides corporate deal expertise.

Ashursts corporate partner David Kershaw says: “The number of agreements it enters into on a day-to-day basis means that it needs someone to be on that constantly. I would welcome Michael’s appointment – it makes life easier for us.

“For the big corporate work that we are doing it is very good news to have an in-house counsel.”

ShopSmart employs app-roximately 100 people, most of whom are based in London.