Pinsent Masons

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Brexit badge.png Part of the Powerbase Brexit Portal.

Pinsent Masons is an international law firm, ranked in the UK's top 20 firms.

In 2012 it bought Scottish law firm McGrigors for £20-plus million and has a strong presence in Scotland.

Lobbying government

Public Policy is the public affairs division of Pinsent Masons, providing 'tailored strategic public affairs advice on the business implications of legislation and regulation from Westminster and Whitehall, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government and the EU'. It is headed by Alastair Ross. [1]

Brexit lobbying

Pinsent Masons has launched a Brexit-focused ‘public policy unit’ as a result, it says, of 'an increase in client demand for advice on government relations’ post-Brexit.

It has also created a 'Brexit hub' on its website.[2]

The firm hired former Labour cabinet minister Douglas Alexander as a Brexit adviser in March 2016.[3]

Working for the fracking industry

FrackWell.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project

Pinsent Masons has held various conferences for the industry and produced a 'Shale Gas Toolkit', among other resources.

Community engagement to help persuade the 'moderates' and isolate 'extremists'

In February 2015 the law firm sponsored a fracking event at the National Gallery in Scotland, at which the key talking points apparently became about how to convince a sceptical public. [4] The various opposition groups to fracking developments were divided into 'moderates' who could be persuaded of the benefits of the process, and 'extremists' or a 'hardcore group of certain individuals' that lobbying firms would need to isolate with a tougher approach.

Pinsent's energy and property disputes expert Melissa Thompson gave a talk specifically on how to deal with protests, offering 'community engagement' as the solution to help people better understand the benefits and real risks of fracking. Thompson made a distinction between the people receptive to this message and ‘professional protesters who don’t actually know what cause they’re protesting against’. [5]

Such rhetoric is a clear example of the PR and lobbying industry's oft-used 'divide-and-rule' strategy, which pushes an 'us' and 'them' mindset as a means of weakening opposition protests, and as a result, places client interests ahead of local democracy and people's rights. [6]

Cuadrilla setback a blow to keeping the lights on

In June 2015 after fracking firm Cuadrilla's controversial application to frack at two sites was rejected by Lancashire council, Pinsent's Robbie Owen was quoted in the Telegraph:

"Today's decision to refuse planning permission at Preston New Road will be viewed as a considerable setback for shale gas exploration in England. It sends a further unhelpful signal to international investors at a time when the UK's energy policy is in a state of flux. The events of recent weeks demonstrate a difficult relationship between localism on the one hand and the need to keep the lights on on the other. The next likely move will be an appeal to the Secretary of State, but the question for potential investors is whether the UK is simply becoming too difficult and unpredictable a place." [7]

Nuclear activities

Nuclear spin.png This article is part of the Nuclear Spin project of Spinwatch.
Pinsent Masons are a heavyweight legal player on nuclear issues, working for both government and corporations. They sell themselves as 'unrivalled'
...leading advisers on new nuclear build and decommissioning for developers e.g. advising Nugeneration Limited on its new build development at Sellafield, the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and local authorities e.g. on the flagship new nuclear build at Hinkley Point C. Our advice covers site due diligence, judicial review risk, nuclear liability and historic environmental risk, in particular analysing, interpreting and applying the Nuclear Installations Act as well as Paris Convention liabilities and the UK's current position on the Amending Protocol to the Paris Convention.

They offer strategic advice too:

...offering advice and assistance on the formation of joint ventures and/or alliances; the provision of strategic director level briefings on contract structures and relevant corporate governance/commercial issues. Organising industry briefings and pursuit of industry wide supply chain issues with British Nuclear Group, UKAEA, the NDA and Government. [8]

Advising on nuclear deals

Pinsents advised on UK nuclear company AMEC's - acquisition of Serco's nuclear services business in June 2012. Their team was led by Helen Ridge and Anna Whetham and included Amie Norris, Jon Robinson and Phil Birchall. According to Masons' press release:

Helen Ridge commented "We are delighted to have supported AMEC again on a strategic acquisition as it continues to expand its clean energy business".
Iain Clarkson, Vice President Finance, AMEC Power Process Europe added "Pinsent Masons have yet again been an integral part of our team providing pragmatic commercial advice and supporting us to deliver the deal on time". [9]

People

  • Paul Rice, Partner - Head of Client Relationships, Energy & Natural Resources
  • Bob Ruddiman - Partner - Head of Energy & Natural Resources

Secondee to government working on Hinkley Point C application

  • Sophie Barr is a Pinsent Masons employee, who was seconded to the Office for Nuclear Development at the DECC from March 2012 until March 2013. Her role was as 'Head of Waste Transfer Contract', working on Development of the Government’s Waste Transfer Contract application to Hinkley Point C. DECC said it made a contribution to her salary. [10]

Clients

  • Nugeneration Limited, a private consortium that wants to build a new nuclear power station near Sellafield
  • AMEC - Pinsents advised on AMEC's acquisition of Serco nuclear services business in June 2012

Affiliations

Lobbying firms

Former lobbying firms

Contact, Resources and Notes

Contact

Pinsent Masons has offices in Aberdeen; Belfast; Birmingham; Edinburgh; Leeds; London; Manchester; Munich; Paris; Istanbul; Dubai; Qatar; Beijing; Hong Kong; Shanghai and Singapore.

Website : www.pinsentmasons.com
Twitter: @PinsentMasons
London Address:30 Crown Place, Earl Street, London, EC2A 4ES
Phone: (020) 7418 7000
Edinburgh Address (for client meetings): Princes Exchange, 1 Earl Grey Street, Edinburgh EH3 9AQ
Edinburgh Address: Third floor, Quay 2, 139 Fountainbridge, Edinburgh EH3 9QG

Resources

Notes

  1. Public Policy, Pinsent Masons website, undated, acc 31 October 2013
  2. Brexit Hub, Pinsent Masons website, accessed Nov 2017
  3. Pinsents appoints former Labour MP Douglas Alexander as Brexit advise, The Lawyer, 1 March 2016
  4. Liam Burnett, I Went to an Edinburgh Conference to Find Out How Scotland Is Going to Get Fracked, Vice News, 11 February 2015, accessed 14 October 2015
  5. Holyrood Exposed: A Guide to Lobbying in Scotlandsquarespace.com, 12 October 2015, accessed 12 October 2015
  6. Melissa Jones, Powerbase, October 2015
  7. Fracking decision Lancashire live, at 11.04am, The Telegraph, accessed same day
  8. Nuclear Power, Pinsent Masons website, undated, acc 1 November 2013
  9. [http://www.pinsentmasons.com/en/media/press-releases/2012/pinsent-masons-advises-on-amecs-acquisition-of-serco-nuclear-services-business/ Pinsent Masons advises on AMEC's acquisition of Serco nuclear services business], Pinsent Masons website, 29 June 2012, acc 1 November 2013
  10. FOI request, Response dated 15 February 2013
  11. Register 1st September 2014 - 30th November 2014 APPC, accessed 28 January 2015