National Power in-house team in demerger fall-out

National Power's decision to demerge has led to a rush of departures from its in-house legal team.

Previously 25-strong, there are now only 18 lawyers in the department.

Head of legal Stuart Wheeler describes the departures as “natural wastage”.

He refuses to name those who have left but says that one has returned to private practice while others have found alternative in-house positions or accepted early retirement with voluntary redundancy packages.

Wheeler says the company will not be recruiting replacements until the future of the department has been decided, which will be a decision for the new companies' boards.

“It is quite a difficult position for us. We have announced the demerger but the earliest it will take place is July,” says Wheeler.

The demerger is being effected to separate the domestic and international arms of National Power.

Wheeler says the company is still seeking a chief executive officer for the international concern, International Power, and possibly for the UK business, Npower.

Therefore, the legal department will continue in its current format until the full boards of the respective new companies are appointed.

However, Wheeler says that there is already a natural split along international and domestic lines in the legal department, with an international and a UK manager.

Wheeler's own future is less clear as his role straddles both the international and domestic operations.

“I don't know. I'm left in the middle as always happens,” he says, adding that there are also a number of litigation lawyers who do not fit neatly into the national and international groupings.

The future relationship between National Power and its external firms is not likely to be affected by the demerger.

Linklaters & Alliance handles most of National Power's corporate work and some international work. The company also instructs Clifford Chance, Ashurst Morris Crisp and Denton Hall for its energy litigation.