18 Aug 2020

Around the house: new general counsel at National Grid and FRC

Justine Campbell swaps Centrica for National Grid, while UK regulator gets a new GC

Justine Campbell will take up her new role at National Grid at the start of next year

UK energy distributor National Grid has appointed Centrica group general counsel Justine Campbell to succeed incumbent veteran general counsel Alison Kay, after nearly a quarter-century at the company.

Campbell will succeed Kay at the start of next year, and joins the executive committee. Campbell has been at Centrica since 2016 and was promoted to group general counsel in April 2019, having previously served as general counsel at British Gas. She also held in-house roles at Vodafone UK, as corporate affairs director, and as European general counsel of Telefonica, now O2. 

Prior to this, Campbell originally trained as a competition lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, before joining BT and O2 as a senior competition counsel, giving her more than 20 years in-house experience in regulated markets.

Her predecessor Kay, a leading member of the GC100 group, held a wide variety of roles during her time at National Grid, which she joined in 1996 from private practice. Kay held the role for eight years, at a time when the legal aspects of balancing transmission capacity with a greater diversity of energy sources have been substantial. She led successful reviews of its legal function, which has grown, and successive panel reviews, most recently in 2019. 

New GC at the FRC

The Financial Reporting Council, meanwhile, hired Alex Kuczynski, the former director of corporate affairs of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, as its new general counsel. 

Kuczynski, who has two decade’s of experience at the FSCS, also worked for both Herbert Smith Freehills and Hogan Lovells, specialising in financial services regulation throughout his career. 

Kuczynski said: “The breadth and depth of the FRC’s activities and scope make this role an especially fascinating and challenging one as the corporate services team play a key role in supporting the delivery of the FRC’s success and influence.”

He joins the FRC as the organisation transitions to become the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority, following 2018 UK government proposals for regulatory reform. The reforms followed a series of high-profile audit failures, including the well-publicised collapse of Carillion, leading to criticism of the FRC’s performance. 

He replaces former general counsel Anne McArthur, who had been in the job since 2006. Following McArthur's departure in March, the role was held on an interim basis by deputy general counsel Kate Davies.

Kuczynski is one of a number of new appointments to the FRC, as it refreshes its personnel. Mark Babington also joined as executive director of regulatory standards to bolster its technical and policy experience in audit and ethical practice, while Elizabeth Barrett arrived as executive director of enforcement in 2018.

Barrett, a veteran Slaughter & May dispute resolution partner, replaced Gareth Rees QC, who left the FRC to return to private practice with US law firm King & Spalding, before joining Morrison & Foerster in March.

The Association of Corporate Counsel previously argued that the FRC should encourage organisations to include in-house lawyers as part of the executive management team to help ensure best practice in corporate culture.

By appointing Kuczynski a director, his example will encourage businesses to include GCs as part of the executive team, as Campbell’s appointment at National Grid does for listed businesses.