Partner, Head of Litigation & Corporate Risk
“The 'very reliable and knowledgeable' Nathan Willmott is widely considered to be one of London's leading regulatory enforcement solicitors.” (Chambers & Partners, 2018)
- Department Managing Partner for Litigation & Corporate Risk, and leader of the firm’s Financial Regulation Group.
- Specialises in complex regulatory issues for financial institutions and individual members of senior management. Conducting internal investigations, representing clients in regulatory investigations by the PRA, FCA, PSR and other enforcement agencies, defending enforcement proceedings and related litigation.
- Advising a range of clients on the implications of the UK’s secession from the EU (Brexit) and how to restructure their businesses in order to continue to transact across the EEA.
- Clients include major insurers and intermediaries, investment and retail banks, investment firms, broker dealers, commodity trading firms, and Full List and AIM listed companies.
- Frequently acts for firms in responding to Section 166 FSMA skilled person reviews, thematic reviews and regulator risk assessments.
- "Described by one client as ‘one of the best financial services litigators around’, team head Nathan Willmott provides ‘tactically excellent, commercial and responsive’ advice." (Legal 500, 2017)
- A Solicitor Advocate holding full Higher Rights of Audience in the Civil Courts.
- Co-author of A Practitioner’s Guide to Financial Services Enforcement and Investigations (Sweet & Maxwell) and Professional Negligence and Liability (LLP).
- Ranked in Chambers (Band 1) 2018 Financial Services: Contentious Regulatory.
- Member of the Financial Services Lawyers Association.
Contributing author to the Financial Regulation: Emerging Themes in 2017 publication – essential reading for UK-based legal, risk and compliance professionals. Over 20 accessible articles, practical graphics and a handy regulatory calendar for 2017 and beyond.
Q & A
How do you deal with international investigations?For investigations involving US regulatory or criminal authorities, we work closely with a range of New York and Washington DC law firms to ensure that our clients receive tailored advice to achieve the best outcome available. In Asia, the Middle East and Europe we work with our colleagues in other BLP offices, or with other specialist lawyers within our international network of Preferred Firms.
What approach do you use in dealing with regulators conducting an investigation?Whenever appropriate to meet the objectives of our client, we adopt an approach of 'constructive engagement' with the regulators. We seek to ensure we have a close understanding of the regulators’ concerns, and then address each of those concerns using cogent evidence and first principle arguments. In the right cases, identifying the key evidence and bringing it to the attention of the investigators, with a clear articulation of what that evidence means, puts the investigators in a position where they are able to reach an early view and discontinue their investigation. We have used this approach successfully in a range of investigations against institutions and members of senior management.
What’s different about BLP’s regulatory practice?Key to advising clients effectively is having a deep knowledge of how the regulators make their decisions, their current priorities and personnel, the client’s products and services that are subject to scrutiny, and the underlying legal and regulatory regime. To develop these insights, many of our Financial Regulation Group have spent time on secondment at the FCA (and previously the FSA) and at major financial institutions. As a result we are excellently placed to design and implement a tailored strategy for our clients to achieve their objectives in relation to the investigation. We never take our client’s objectives for granted, as every investigation is unique.
What do financial services businesses need to look out for in the next 2-3 years?The biggest issue for our clients is how to continue to transact business across the EEA following ‘Brexit’. We are advising firms on restructuring their European operations to take advantage of EEA passporting rights, while continuing to maintain activities in the UK with minimum disruption. Alongside this, there is little sign that the enforcement activity that has been prevalent over recent years is abating. Following the implementation of the Senior Managers and Certification Regime for banks (7 March 2016), the political pressure on the PRA and FCA to take action against senior management as individuals has increased. In practice, the onus will be on the senior manager to provide evidence that they took reasonable steps to manage the risk that has crystallised. The key will be for members of senior management to be properly trained on their duties under the new regime. Regulators will consider the steps taken when first appointed, as well as those taken on an ongoing basis to assess conduct. This new regime is to be extended to all authorised firms by 2018, increasing the enforcement threat for individuals right across the regulated sector.