Journalist John Burbedge met Simon Staples, new head of law firm Blake Morgan’s Thames Valley corporate team that is . . .
“Businesses can deal with GDPR if they prepare for it and start doing it in time, but some businesses may be leaving things too late. They need to bite the bullet and get on with it now,” stated Simon Staples.
It was an apposite warning, following a Blake Morgan autumn survey revealing 87% of businesses not yet having made crucial updates to their privacy policies – a key requirement of the major General Data Protection Regulation and related ePrivacy Regulation changes taking effect from May 25, 2018.
Further revelations that 23% of businesses were not aware of the new information governance laws being implemented next year, and 38% not confident of complying by the deadline, do not merely emphasise Staples’ comment. They reflect his professional pragmatism yet commercially-focused approach to legal matters that may jeopardise the business community he serves.
While informed help is at hand for Blake Morgan clients (*see below), without rapid and well-advised action many businesses could be risking potential non-compliance fines, third-party legal actions, and reputational damage, Staples suggests. With the Thames Valley as the ‘Silicon Valley’ hub of the UK’s growing data-dependent digital economy, his local concerns are obvious.
Aside from GDPR, the team is hearing from clients concerned about the impact of Brexit on corporate dealmaking. “In the absence of clear Government direction, Brexit is undeniably having an impact on business decisions. Most of our clients are international in some respect and want certainty to progress. We’re helping them to safeguard their positions, but also identify opportunities.
“Thames Valley generated ideas and advancements are as unique in the science, technology and manufacturing spheres, and as important as anywhere else in the world, and these will thrive regardless,” said Staples positively.
Staples is not fazed by these two potential challenges, nor his move to the vibrant technology-driven Thames Valley.
Having left Ashfords to join Blake Morgan in April, he noted: “It’s different here, larger scale, but there are many similarities to the Bristol market, itself a technology hub in the South West. And, Blake Morgan already has a strong record of supporting new and emerging technologies, from IT security, Big Data, AI to autonomous vehicles. As a physics graduate, working in this environment really appeals and I’m passionate about seeing such businesses succeed.”
Plus, Staples now heads up a highly experienced partner-led corporate team, recently recognised by The Legal 500 as one of only two Tier 1 corporate teams operating in both the Oxford and Reading markets.
“Strong relationships with banks, accountants and venture capitalists built by my colleagues, have enabled me to get to meet people and identify new opportunities. It’s this market insight that enables us to act for SMEs and world-class leaders alike in technology, manufacturing, banking, retail, R&D and science.”
Those corporate team colleagues of Staples include partners Guy Constant, Stephen Tainsh, Simon Court and the firm’s chairman Bruce Potter, each with legal specialisms and highly regarded within the Thames Valley and by the sector’s The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners professional listings.
The Legal 500 has ranked Blake Morgan as Tier 1 in 13 practice areas – among them Corporate and Commercial. Chambers UK 2018 listed 10 of the firm’s Thames Valley teams, with four achieving the highest Band 1 ranking and six in Band 2.
Six months into his new role, Staples said of his team: “What sets us apart is our combined depth of experience enabling us to advise both private and public Thames Valley companies on a wide breadth of corporate transactional work ranging from M&A and disposals, VC and PE to IPOs, secondary issues, public company takeovers and regulatory compliance, especially when that experience is combined with our commercial, tax and banking colleagues’ expertise.”
The focus, Staples says, is now on developing the corporate team, expanding its capabilities to help businesses looking to grow and thrive in the region.