Editor-in-Chief Ben Cooper meets with Richard Stevens MBE, senior partner at Proelium Law, to better understand the vulnerabilities that exist within companies.
Q: Could you tell us a little about your career so far? How did you come to be a Partner at such a unique law firm?
A: My professional career started with the Royal Marines in 1986. I retired in 2009 having served for 23 years, which included a lot of time on operational deployments across the world. Seventeen of those years were spent with specialist military units, so I got to see and do a lot. Since leaving I have been employed on a number of high-level consultancies, most latterly including the investigation of contemporary war crimes. My business partner Adrian, who I’d known for a while, was the Chief of Staff of the War Crimes project, and it was there that we decided to set up the law firm.
Q: Proelium Law specialises in high risk and complex jurisdictions. We can all think of the obvious examples of such places: post-conflict oil ventures in Iraq, or mining concessions in Sierra Leone, for example. But, there are elements of the complex in all overseas ventures aren’t there?
A: Of course, but the ‘edgier’ areas that we focus on bring heightened complexities. In addition to the friction of working across cultures, dealing with matters ranging from commercial contracts to data protection, and within the boundaries of anti-money laundering, counter terrorist financing and bribery and corruption acts, there are other factors to consider.
The prevalence of violence, absence of rule of law, warlord or gangsterism, all make it difficult for international development organisations to function effectively. Having been there and lived through some of the issues, we consider ourselves qualified to offer advice.
However, our offering is broader than servicing those who work in difficult countries, as we support those who supply specialist skills into those areas, such as hostile environment training providers, specialist equipment manufacturers and the like – those enterprises who support the field operations from the home base.
Richard Stevens MBE, Director of Proelium Law, served as a member of the British Forces for 23 years.
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