BT shake-up forces redundancies

British Telecom’s (BT) in-house team is facing possible redundancies as part of the business-wide restructuring announced earlier this month.

The 250-strong central legal group will be split into a series of different departments, based on lines of business as opposed to legal specialities. The majority of the staff will have to reapply for their jobs as part of the overhaul.

But legal employees in the Far East are facing the threat of redundancy. The telecoms giant has offices across the region, including Australia, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpa. But it plans to abandon this network in favour of one centralised office in Japan. George Ritchie, BT lawyer and group general counsel office manager, confirms that redundancies are a possibility, although he is unable to say how many.

Even though individual line of business legal departments will be created, there will still be a central in-house team to cover specific areas, such as securities, finance and litigation. However, should any of the newly-created business groups become separate companies, the legal team of that business will no longer be answerable to the central legal function. New roles of practice leaders will be created to ensure that legal standards are maintained across the overhauled in-house team.

The entire reorganisation of the department is expected to be completed by April 2001. Group general counsel Alan Whitfield will continue to head the internal legal provision.