Capital One UK's new legal chief prepares for overhaul

Capital One UK is to double its in-house team within the next 12 months, according to its new head of legal, former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Nick Carter.

Carter has joined the US-based bank as international chief legal counsel. He is responsible for all legal functions outside the US, including the UK, Europe and South Africa.

It is a newly-created role; previously, Vicky Mitchell oversaw the UK legal function only. She remains in the 10-strong department, reporting to Carter, who in turn reports to president and chief operating officer Nigel Morris and his US opposite number John Finnean.

Carter says that one of his first roles will be to increase the in-house team. “We're growing very rapidly, right across the business – joint ventures, commercial agreements, support for human resources, compliance, banking and finance and securities. By the end of the year we want to double our number of lawyers,” he says.

Clifford Chance and Denton Wilde Sapte have been Capital One's main City advisers since its UK launch in 1996. The bank also uses Midlands-based firms, predominately for commercial work. It has a sizable Nottingham-based head office as well as its London operation.

Carter will also be looking at the external advisers, and although they will be reviewed regularly, he believes they are unlikely to change.

But Carter confirms that he will not be using Freshfields. “I need to have an arm's-length relationship with our advisers so I think that [to instruct Freshfields] would be unbalanced.”

Carter has been with the magic circle firm for 18 years, working in the intellectual property and IT practice. But he decided that it was time to move out of private practice and into a more commercial role.

He says: “I'd been in private practice since 1984. I was ready to do something a little wider; something more strategic and execution-based.”

Carter also joins the UK's five-strong executive board.

Capital One is one of the world's largest credit card providers, with nearly 34 million customers. In 1996 it rolled out its US operations to the UK, offering Visa and Mastercard credit cards.

The bank is headquartered in Virginia and, as of 31 December 2000, it had $29.5bn (£20.7bn) in managed loans outstanding.