Eight fantastic in-house teams are in the running for In-house Commerce & Industry Team of the Year, sponsored by EY, this November.

The first nominee, AEG Europe, is the owner and operator of The O2 Arena, and it had a year of highlights. Among them, it obtained UK/European competition clearance of AEG’s merger of its facilities management business with SMG, creating a new facilities management giant, ASM Global, with over 300 venues worldwide; completed multimillion-pound sponsorship deals with AmEx and Virgin Money; leased and opened Mamma Mia! The Party at The O2; and increased AEG’s ownership stake in the AccorHotels Arena, Paris.

Mobile services infrastructure company Cornerstone has been grappling with the introduction of the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) in December 2017. A specially formed ECC Team within the company has become a key driver in business strategy and the decision-making process.

It has set precedents providing clarity on the law, including the Court of Appeal’s decision in University of London v Cornerstone [2019] EWCA Civ 2075, which recognised that the right to conduct a survey to assess the suitability of land, an essential prerequisite for the installation and operation of apparatus, is a statutory right under the ECC; and the Upper Tribunal’s decision in Cornerstone v Richard Gregory Keast [2019] UKUT 01161 confirmed that operators who received statutory powers under the previous ECC for a “system of conduits” could take advantage of the benefits that the ECC provides.

Chelsea Football Club‘s legal team has been tackling a serious problem at football: that of touting. The team gathered evidence and successfully persuaded the High Court to grant civil injunctions against 14 touts. The club then successfully enforced costs orders against the applicable individuals which resulted in the imprisonment of one tout.

Womens’ football has also been a key priority for Chelsea and the legal team has been working with The FA to drive forward reforms in youth development, scholarship opportunities, training compensation, and home grown player quotas. In the men’s game, the club has relaunched a full service legal support panel for players which helps academy starlets, many of whom come from the poorest parts of the community, free of charge.

Throughout 2019, Kentucky Fried Chicken GB legal team led the negotiation and execution of food delivery aggregator agreements (Deliveroo, Just Eats, UberEATS among others) across Europe for all three of Yum’s brands , KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

The team also played a key role designing a global aggregator strategy for Yum which included creating a bespoke franchise formula and thought leadership on applicable employment law, competition law and data protection law. The team was instrumental in leading these deals which unlocked exponential sales growth for KFC.

Home improvement company Kingfisher is in the process of transforming itself from a traditional stores format to an ‘omnichannel physical and digital retailer’. In response, its legal team is adapting its legal operating model to ensure they can be present and agile on business pilots early on.

Among its various innovations, it has established a highly-skilled in-house ‘IP Law Centre of Excellence’ that works in partnership with the business to secure IP rights to the company’s product range and to market it. Meanwhile the data protection team conducted a ground-breaking analysis to permit an e-commerce pilot to successfully analyse consumer data while ensuring there is no compromise to individual consumer’s personal data; 

In the last 12 months the legal function at Mitie has played an increasingly integral role in defining and implementing key elements of the organisation’s transformation project and providing input and direction on business-critical decisions. Alongside Pinsent Masons its employment team has designed and implemented an Employment Tribunal claims management platform that delivers real time updates and insight on claims, themes and risks, allowing us to Mitie generate metrics to measure and respond to employment risks. Meanwhile the M&A team has managed the separation of Mitie’s pest control business (sold for £40m to Rentokil Initial), and social housing business (sold to Mears for £35m), as well as leading the negotiations for the £85m sale of its catering business to CH&Co.

Ocado Group had a transformational 2019 in which it sold off 50 per cent of the Ocado Retail business to Marks & Spencer. To facilitate the transaction, the entire Ocado Group was reorganised to hive off the Retail business into a standalone joint venture, leaving the group as a dedicated technology and logistics group. Alongside this the group struck two further international deals in Australia and Japan and began to deliver on the implementation of its partnerships in France, Sweden, Canada and the US.

The legal department was at the heart of this, helping drive all elements of the negotiations, strategy and implementation, negotiating the transaction with M&S and taking the commercial lead on the technology and grocery sourcing elements. This continued throughout the year, negotiating complex technology transactions in Australia and Japan, fronting the negotiations and documentation with only limited assistance from local counsel on matters on specific legal concern. Alongside the transactional workload, the legal team began addressing the new business-as-usual of supporting the implementation of the Ocado hardware and software platform in multiple locations across seven jurisdictions in addition to the UK.

Finally, SSE‘s legal team were also instrumental in a major transaction as SSE Energy Services were sold to OVO, a key step towards SSE’s strategy of a more focused group specialising in low-carbon infrastructure. This complex transaction involved planning and implementing a carve-out from the wider SSE business. The legal team coordinated with the investor relations and corporate affairs teams to provide consistent, accurate information to 8,000+ employees, 3.5 million customers and shareholders.

The full shortlist

AEG Europe
Chelsea Football Club
Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain)
Mitie Group
Ocado Group

The Lawyer Awards is going virtual for 2020! The ceremony, in association with Travelers, will take place online on the afternoon of 3 November. Visit the awards website to register.

From the sponsor

In this time of unprecedented change, businesses are needing to change more than, and at a faster pace, than ever before. Changes in demand patterns, supply chain and operations, meeting the new needs of customers, innovating, managing risk, all at the same time as  operating in a world that has demanded major changes in the way we work and communicate.

Within this construct, the budgets available to continue pivoting your business in accordance to regulatory or event-driven changes has meant that in-house teams must be creative in solving the dilemma of doing not just ‘more for less’, but “more for less, quicker than ever before”. Legal teams are therefore modernising  their operations and platforms to deliver meaningful value to the organisation.

EY’s Legal Managed Services (LMS) have a strong track record of helping clients create a future vision and then achieve it, enabling clients to leverage technology, process and efficient resource management. Our LMS team customise and support the technology and data-driven processes to control costs, better mitigate risk, and deliver value to the business.  Our core LMS offerings include:

  • Functional and technology consulting
  • Contract lifecycle management
  • Entity compliance and governance
  • Research and regulatory mapping

With 3,500 professionals in 80+ jurisdictions, including LMS delivery centres around the world, EY law offers broad global coverage for legal matters wherever you need it. Our ambition is to create the future of legal services, further broadening the ability to help corporate legal departments around the world transform their practices and help deliver meaningful value to their business. Find out more: https://www.ey.com/en_uk/law/managed-services