Chief Legal Counsel at BHP-Billiton cans firms’ conflicts awareness

Lawyers Weekly‘s 2 February 2007 edition reported the following comments from John Fast, Chief Legal Counsel of BHP-Billiton:

‘“The area where I think the biggest difficulties arise is in … conflicts, and that is an area where increasingly firms that do not have a very clear conflicts of interest policy are at a disadvantage, and will lose business,” he said.
He said the really “focused” law firms had dealt with the issue effectively. “They enacted a policy, they know what it is, you are unequivocally clear about where you stand with them. You have very clear terms about what’s permitted, what’s not permitted, what you’ll deal with and what you won’t deal with.”

He said conflict of interest had been an issue with one or two firms seven years ago when he was appointed to head BHP’s legal department, but said “surprisingly it remains an issue today”.

“I know that you never want to say no to a big juicy transaction or a client, but in the interests of your relationships … you’ve just got to accept that sometimes you have to say no, because the interests of your client are more important to your long term relationship than the short-term value of an isolated transaction.”

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