Nick Hawkins

Back to homepage

Nick is a very experienced (36 years’ call) corporate Barrister, who has spent much of his career as an in-house Counsel working at a senior level in PLCs and in smaller companies, as Legal Director or equivalent. He therefore has a real insight into the kind of practical legal advice which directors and managers of companies need. He has advised on significant £multi-million  M & A matters, Competition Law, and dealt with very significant Due Diligence matters on investment deals. He is Direct Access – qualified. He has a particular specialism in advising on legislation and the way legislation may be changed, and on regulation and regulatory bodies. In his business career, he has worked on many overseas matters, in the UK, Europe and the US, and as a lawyer in the biggest international firm in the Sultanate of Oman. He has had particular links with the Isle of Man having been on the Board of a Manx Company and with the Channel Islands, having had extensive dealings with Jersey legal matters, including draft legislation, and Guernsey and Alderney, on banking, financial services, IT and gambling legal and regulatory matters. He has also had links in the same fields in Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, BVI, Antigua, Bermuda and Cayman Islands. Nick also spent 13 years as a  Conservative M.P. , to 2005. In Government he served in the MoD and DNH, and he was a Shadow Minister in a variety of roles under all of the three Opposition leaders 1997-2005. His most senior role was Shadow Solicitor-General.

For the first 7  years of his career, Nick practised from the Chambers in Birmingham, which grew into St. Philip’s. During these years  Nick appeared several times successfully in several reported cases, and others, in the Court of Appeal, as well as a very wide variety of work, which included complex corporate fraud cases, and even defending a conspiracy to Murder case, which he had to take over from leading Counsel (who had an accident)  on the last day – his work was praised in writing by Drake J.  He gradually concentrated on civil and commercial work, for corporate clients large and small. He had acquired expertise in credit card work involving Barclaycard in Northampton and its customers. He was the founder of the national Railway Lawyers Group which he ran successfully for a number of years, and which included a lot of significant national figures in the rail industry. in 1986 Nick moved to senior roles as an in-house Counsel inside Companies. He was the In-house Barrister for Access Credit Cards (at a time when 16 million UK citizens had an Access card, and there were only 2 UK credit cards, Barclaycard and Access). During this period Nick acted as arbitrator on a very large number of cases between cardholders and those supplying goods or services, and none of his decisions were ever challenged. Nick advised correctly that BCCI should not be permitted to become Access card issuers (avoiding much potential loss had they been, when BCCI later collapsed and was shown to be fraudulent). He also wrote the submission to the Government’s Jack Review Committee on Banking Services Law, for the 4 banks which jointly owned Access-(Lloyds, NatWest, RBS and Midland-now HSBC), which was praised by the Committee in its report.  After a few years in this role Nick was headhunted to become Group Legal Adviser, Lloyds Abbey Life plc and had an even wider remit, running  the legal work for a number of subsidiaries, (which to customers seemed to be just part of Lloyds Bank) , including Black Horse Agencies, (national Estate Agency) on behalf of which he became the first lawyer ever to commence libel proceedings against the Consumers’ Association “Which?” magazine, and to obtain a published apology. Other significant work was for Lloyds Bowmaker, (major lender) and undertaking all the legal work for the creation of a new captive health insurance company, and extensive work on “regulatory arbitrage“ issues between the then inconsistent rulebooks of the FSA, IMRO, LAUTRO and FIMBRA. In 1992, Nick was elected as a Conservative M.P. and served in the Commons for 13 years. He was appointed by P.M. John Major to junior Government roles firstly at the MoD, then promoted to a slightly more senior role at what was then DNH (now DCMS).

In Opposition, he was appointed a Shadow Minister, and later promoted, by each of William Hague, Ian Duncan Smith, and Michael Howard. His most senior role was Shadow Solicitor-General.

Nick worked closely as a Consultant, whilst in Opposition, with major bodies in the Construction industry, including the Major Contractors Group/Construction Confederation and the British Cement Association, and he continued extensive international links throughout, with the US, Israel, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Malta, Isle of Man (representing the Opposition at Tynwald several times), Channel Islands,  and many European and Caribbean jurisdictions.

Nick did not contest the 2005 Election, but returned to corporate law. He has subsequently worked as Counsel inside leading international law firms in the City of London and overseas (including the leading international law firm in the Sultanate of Oman) for both small and large corporate clients. Nick returned to Yorkshire (where he’d lived in both the 1970’s and 1980’s) in 2007, and spent 4 years as Legal Director and Company Secretary to the £165 Million Danoptra Group, (sports, leisure and gambling group) whose HQ was in Horsforth, and now lives in Collingham near Wetherby.  He was a key member of a small management team which achieved a successful business turnaround, despite the then adverse general economic circumstances. Amongst his work he advised on a major and complex M & A deal, made more complex by Competition Law issues and the fact that it was a complex assets deal, and on many regulatory issues, environmental matters including preparing defence on complex and tragic cases, liaison with external bodies including SOCA, engineering matters for major manufacturing subsidiary, Isle of Man and other international matters involving French law, Greece and Cyprus, banking and employment law, health and safety, IP and extensive Company Secretarial work..  As set out above, he has had particularly extensive work in many overseas countries, especially  offshore jurisdictions.  He has dealt with a wide variety of regulatory bodies and organisations. In recent years, in addition to his legal work, Nick has been involved in investment deals,  in several businesses, and led as CEO a spin-out tech company from Bradford University, taking it through two investment rounds. In this work he has dealt with many matters, including legal work, in the fields of water, energy and engineering. Nick rejoined Chambers in 2015. He is Direct Access qualified, and specialises in advising Companies on all the wide variety of corporate legal, governance, compliance and public affairs/lobbying issues they may need advice on, or have to have dealt with. He is expert in giving down-to-earth, practical, cost-effective and realistic guidance of the kind which those running businesses really want.