Canada’s Gowlings boosts London with former British Energy GC

Canadian firm Gowlings has embarked on an expansion of its London energy practice with the hire of former British Energy Group general counsel Robert Armour.

Armour has joined Gowlings’ London office as senior counsel. Before joining the firm Armour was general counsel and corporate affairs director for British Energy and played a key role in its £12.5bn takeover by EDF in 2009.

The takeover was the catalyst for Armour’s decision to move back into private practice. He was familiar with Gowlings after the firm worked on British Energy’s acquisition of Canada’s Bruce Power nuclear plant in 2003.

“EDF took over British Energy in 2009 and I didn’t think there was a role for me there anymore since the company had been acquired and that’s usually an area where they can save money,” said Armour.

According to Gowlings managing partner Andrew Oppenheim, Armour’s hire is just the first of many for the firm in the energy sector.

“There’ll be more hires on the way,” said Oppenheim. “Our goal is to develop a team in London that can serve as the hub for business in Europe, Middle East and Asia, and I think the team [which at present has three lawyers] will grow to up to 20 lawyers within the next couple of years. And we’ll supplement this with others from offices across the world.”

As well as eight offices in Canada and one in London, Gowlings also has an office in Moscow that is primarily focused on IP work.

Before joining British Energy, Armour was legal adviser and company secretary at Scottish Nuclear. He began his career at Scottish firm Haldanes McLaren & Scott, which later merged with Wright Johnston & Mackenzie.

In 2007, Robert was made an OBE for services to the electricity industry.