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Simmons & Simmons competition partner Clare Potter is leaving to join the Competition Commission, where the firm’s former head of competition, Peter Freeman, is deputy chair.
Potter is joining as general counsel and will replace Brian McHenry, who moved to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) earlier this year to take up the newly created post of solicitor to the OFT.
Competition lawyers have welcomed moves to bring in more private practice lawyers at both the OFT and Competition Commission, saying they will ensure decision-making is more robust. One magic circle partner said: “It’s a very good thing for people to come in and out of private practice as, say, Peter Freeman at the Competition Commission and Simon Priddis at the OFT have done.”
The number of lawyers working at the Competition Commission has increased in recent years. Potter joins not just Freeman, but also former Theodore Goddard competition lawyer Diana Guy, who was made deputy chair last month.
The next major opening will come in the new year when the head of the OFT, John Vickers, is expected to stand down.
Potter told The Lawyer: “With the expanded role of the Competition Appeals Tribunal, it is inevitable that more decisions will be appealed. The Competition Commission has seen the way the OFT has had to get to grips with appeals over the last few years.”
She added that her experience in the regulated sectors will be particularly helpful in relation to telecoms and energy cases.
Potter’s departure will be a blow to Simmons, particularly as it compounds the loss of the firm’s major competition star, Freeman, last January. However, the firm has four remaining competition partners in London.