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Network Rail has promoted deputy general counsel Stuart Kelly to the top role following the departure of legal boss Suzanne Wise to Japan Tobacco International (JTI).
Last month, The Lawyer reported that Wise was set to join Japan Tobacco International as senior vice president for corporate development. Stuart is expected to formally take on the new role at the end of May when she officially departs.
Kelly has worked at Network Rail for over a year, joining from Severn Trent where he was filling the same role in 2015. He spent around five years at the utility company, filling two other roles of head of legal and head of group business development.
In his new role, Kelly will be responsible for the legal services function at Network Rail which is made up of more than 40 lawyers and staff, and the transparency and business ethics function. She is also a member of Network Rail’s executive committee.
Wise was the top lawyer at Network Rail for five years, having joined from Premier Foods in November 2011.
Wise was also the driving force behind the company’s last panel review of external advisers in 2013, when Network Rail cut its core panel from 12 firms to five. This excluded former panel firms Bircham Dyson Bell, Bond Pearce, Clifford Chance, Kennedys, Schofield Sweeney, Simmons & Simmons and Winckworth Sherwood, as well as Scottish firm MacRoberts.
Following the panel review in 2013, BLM was the sole firm to be appointed to Network Rail’s insurance based legal services panel. The firm was re-appointed to that panel in the same capacity in 2016 following a tender process.
According to data from The Lawyer Market Intelligence (LMI), Network Rail has one main panel and three further advisory contracts. Eversheds Sutherland receives the bulk of legal work from the company.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Stuart Kelly has been appointed group general counsel at Network Rail. He will oversee the legal, company secretariat and transparency, ethics and data protection teams.”
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