Ashurst hires Centrica GC as partner in energy practice

Peter Roberts

The move comes on the back of last week’s news that Adrian Morris, general counsel for Centrica-owned British Gas, has left to head up the legal team at BP (1 February 2010). This temporarily leaves the business with no legal head for either its ’upstream’ or ’downstream’ businesses.

Melanie Rowlands was appointed to the British Gas role and starts on Monday. The company is currently recruiting for a replacement for Roberts.

Described as “a real industry heavyweight” by Ashurst global energy chief Geoffrey Picton-Turbervill, Roberts was previously co-head of oil and gas at Jones Day in Hong Kong. Prior to that he had been legal counsel at both Exxon Corp and Balfour Beatty.

The hire is part of a major push into the energy sector by the City firm, following last September’s capture of partner Antony Skinner from Linklaters. This week, former Shell senior counsel Judith Kim also joined as counsel in the Dubai energy team.

“We see energy as a very big area of growth for us both domestically and internationally,” said Picton-Turbevill.

“Peter has a strong legal reputation and a strong reputation in the industry. It’s key for us to have lawyers who know the business and who have in-house experience.”

Roberts is expected to join the firm in early summer.