Camelot Group is about to embark on yet another period of intense public scrutiny.
In August, the Post Office paid £20m for a 20 per cent share in the heavily regulated lottery operator. It was anticipated that the acquisition would cement a joint bid to operate the National Lottery under a new license in 2001.
However, the joint bid has drawn criticism from a number of parties. Virgin, another potential bidder, claims that the tie-up is an attempt to improve Camelot’s “tarnished” image.
But Andrew Osborne, group legal adviser at Camelot, is aware of the task ahead of him and his legal department.
“The main priority for the legal department at the moment is preparing for the bid,” he says.
According to Osborne, the invitation to tender will be received by the various bidders later this month. This will throw the in-house legal department into a period of intense work.
“We will be advising the people who are writing the bid across the business. Certain members of the team are designated [to work on the bid]. They will be devoting two, possibly three days to it a week.”
The Post Office’s purchase of a stake in the company meant both in-house teams worked closely together. But until the invitation to tender is received, Osborne says he does not anticipate much contact between the two teams.
“It is perfectly possible that when it comes out there will be some issues on which we will need to liaise with them,” he says.
Generally Osborne says he prefers to keep as much work as possible within the legal department, which houses six lawyers, a trademark manager and four support staff.
“We have a general approach of trying to tackle the work that comes our way in-house. We don’t have large amounts of routine work that lends itself to being put outside.
“For example, we don’t have large numbers of property transactions. We’ve got a pretty well-managed property function so we don’t have a lot of commercial litigation arising out of that.”
He says that the internal legal department works closely with the company’s marketing function: “It is where there are the most significant demands on the legal department. Camelot has got a fairly large marketing output.
“The in-house team reviews all of the advertising and there is a lot of work involved so more than one of the lawyers handle that sort of work.
“On the sales side there tends to be a lot of promotions and there tends to be more than one lawyer involved on that side.”
However, he adds: “We go outside for specialist help or where we are taking on a major transaction or litigation.
“Cameron McKenna acted for us in the Post Office transaction. We had a mixture of in-house and external lawyers working on that.”
Osborne says he is not prescriptive about which firms he uses for which work: “It is a decision that is taken at the time.”
But he counts Cameron McKenna as Camelot’s main legal adviser.
“Certainly Cameron McKenna was heavily involved in supporting Camelot when it was set up so they have a wide knowledge of the consortium’s history.”
He adds: “We have placed some instructions with Baker & McKenzie on some major things. But Cameron McKenna is undoubtedly the firm that has acted most heavily for us.”
However, Osborne says there is a possibility that the company will add to its list of external legal advisers as last month it announced its intention to extend its reach to the Isle of Man.
“This is being handled in-house but we anticipate that we will need to get some advice from local lawyers. I don’t think we have instructed anyone but the principal review process is being undertaken in-house.”
Head of legal
Camelot Group Plc
|Organisation||Camelot Group Plc|
|Legal function||Six lawyers|
|Head of legal||Andrew Osborne|
|Reporting to||Peter Murphy, business operations director|
|Main location for lawyers||Watford|
|Main law firm||Cameron McKenna, Baker & McKenzie, Collyer-Bristow|