With a role that encompasses Africa, Europe and Asia, RGA International’s new global counsel Catherine Regan has a lot to get to grips with.
My role is somewhat of a general practitioner with a varied geographical spread,” says RGA International’s Catherine Regan of her newly acquired multijurisdictional position.
Regan took on the task of international counsel for the reinsurer’s global arm in October following a successful period as general counsel for competitor RiverStone Management.
She now works for the international arm of Reinsurance Group of America (RGA), which is responsible for expanding the group’s operations overseas.
“I look after all legal matters relating to offices and subsidiaries in England, Ireland, Spain, France, India and South Africa,” Regan explains.
She is essentially a sole in-house lawyer for RGA International’s operations in those specific countries, but refuses to acknowledge the term. Instead, Regan states that the legal capability of the group is “a floating team” – ie several lawyers are scattered throughout RGA’s group of global subsidiaries and are responsible for legal matters relating to their respective jurisdictions.
Under this formula the international legal capability falls under the purview of executive vice-president and general counsel James Sherman. He oversees three assistant general counsel, one of whom is William Hutton, who Regan reports to.
“We’re split up and located around the world and cover legal issues as per jurisdiction rather than by subject matter,” she continues. “This means I could work on compliance, corporate matters, data protection or even money laundering. There are different issues that arise from different jurisdictions.”
RGA’s global reach results in a multitude of varied legal matters. For example, Regan currently has her hands full working on issues surrounding RGA International’s office in Spain.
“We are in the midst of setting up a Spanish office, which means there is an incredible amount of corporate work to do,” she explains.
The reinsurer has had a longstanding relationship with Lovells, which it uses regularly on corporate matters in the UK. This relationship has now evolved to include Spain, among other European jurisdictions.
“We use Lovells on a Europe-wide level, and appoint them mainly for legal matters in Italy, Germany and Spain, as well as in the UK,” says Regan, who naming Lovells senior partner John Young as her relationship partner.
“With regard to India, I tend to work on a lot of exclusivity agreements for services provided by our Indian operations,” she says, adding that employment matters have also arisen in India since her time at the group.
When such issues do arise, Regan instructs Mumbai-based AM Law. She also uses Delhi-based Tuli & Co for litigation and dispute resolution matters, with both firms having been used by RGA International since before Regan’s arrival.
Regan is also presently working on firming up the South African office’s corporate structure and attends all board meetings in South Africa.
“South Africa is all about moulding and creating an optimal corporate structure,” she says of the office, which launched an underwriting offering in 1999. “I expect it to get more interesting as the office develops to offer more products and house more clients.”
Regan is also involved in the standardisation of RGA International’s employment documentation. “We’re trying to standardise our employment paperwork so it can take account of local jurisdictions,” she explains.
This worldwide template is a project that Regan’s peers in Canada, Australia and St Louis are all involved in. The group has appointed Baker & McKenzie.
While looking after such a wide bracket of jurisdictions is heavy, Regan’s work closer to home is also extensive. She has just completed a submission for the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Society on their consultation paper on insurance contract law following mass criticism of the sector’s archaic terms, with regards to misrepresentation, non-disclosure and breach of warranty by the insured.
“These proposals are essential for the industry to move forward,” asserts Regan. “I myself have even made specific comments to the Law Commission on revisions of the contract law,” she says. “Consumers are increasingly challenging insurers and we do need more clarity. We need further transparency and less chances for people to oppose claims.”
Regan brought CMS Cameron McKenna onboard to assist on drafting the company’s proposals, working with partner David Hurst.
Other UK-related issues that Regan handles include drafting terms of a treaty for a new client, which is not usually taken externally unless there are litigious skeletons in the closet, and the constant battle that is data protection.
“We’re a reinsurer; the kind of information we keep is very, very sensitive,” she affirms. “I’m still getting to grips with the data protection issue.”
And it is not surprising. The EU Data Protection Directive covers data protection in Europe, whereas a country such as India, which is part of Regan’s purview, has no data protection laws.
Her legal arena is vast and wide. With wrapping her head around contracts, commuting between South Africa, India and Europe and constructing data protection documents and training sessions, it is a wonder how Regan also tends to two young daughters and a hamster.
“I do my make-up on the train and my conference calls when my kids have gone to bed,” she smiles. “It’s all about being dynamic and balanced.”
Name: Catherine Reagan
Organisation: RGA International
Title: International counsel
Reporting to: RGA assistant general counsel William Hutton, USA
Turnover: £657.4m (group)
Number of employees: 56 (UK)
Legal capability: One
Annual legal spend: £60,000
Main law firms: Baker & McKenzie, DLA Piper, Lovells
Catherine Regan’s CV:
1985-88: Bachelor of Civil Law (Hons), University College, Cork
1989: Qualified, Honourable Society of King’s Inns
1988-89: Technical service, Bank of Ireland
1989-1995: Legal and compliance manager, Bank of Ireland
1997-98: Solicitor, Thomas Eggar
1998-99: Legal adviser, Rohm and Haas
1999-2003: Legal adviser, RiverStone Management
2003-September 2007: Director, general counsel and company secretary, RiverStone Holdings
October 2007-present: International counsel, RGA International