This month's profile features Richard Hothersall, member of the newly formed Energy Law Committee
What is your own practice area?
I’m in the Projects, Energy & Infrastructure Team at McClure Naismith, where I’ve worked for the last 14 years. I started my legal career working on construction and engineering projects generally, progressing into PPP/PFI transactions and public procurement, and then a broader role in energy projects too. It’s been a good mix of work across public and private sectors. Working on energy matters is particularly interesting given its current and future significance, both socially and economically.
What motivates you to get up on a Monday morning?
“Motivation” is perhaps too strong a word to describe the Monday morning process, but I enjoy what I do for a living and know that I’m lucky to be able to do it, so getting up is never too traumatic. The knowledge that the car park at Inverkeithing station is full by about 7.45am helps jolly the getting up process along too.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
If in doubt, ask – there’s (almost) no such thing as a silly question, and there’s no magic moment when you suddenly know everything there is to know about law. This is especially true of being newly qualified – colleagues really don’t expect you to turn into Yoda the morning after your traineeship ends.
Also, be acutely aware of office coffee mug politics. Some lawyers are astonishingly possessive about such things.
How long have you been a member of the committee, and how did you become involved?
I’ve been involved in renewable energy projects for a number of years, and was attending the launch of the International Centre for Energy Arbitration at Drumsheugh Gardens in October 2013. I got talking to Michael Clancy who mentioned that an Energy Law Committee was being established. I expressed an interest in being part of the committee and so I’m fortunate to have been involved from the outset.
What have been the highlights for you personally?
We’re obviously a fairly new committee, but for me our first committee meeting was a really good experience – meeting the other members and getting to work on the first batch of consultations. The remit of the committee is, of course, law reform in the public interest, and we’re all looking forward to taking that forward as the committee develops.
What big project/issue is the committee working on at the moment?
There’s a lot of technical consultation in relation to implementation of energy efficiency measures just now, so that requires a lot of careful consideration. We’ve also not long finished a response on the energy content of the Scotland’s Future document which the Scottish Government published, and it was particularly interesting to have the chance to be involved in that.
What do you see as the other main issues that the committee will have to address in the near future?
Leaving the outcome of the independence referendum in the “might” rather than “will” have to address pile, there’s so much going on at the moment in both renewable energy and the oil and gas sector just now. We’re already seeing battle lines being drawn up ahead of next year’s general election in relation to onshore wind; fracking is still at a relatively early stage; we’ve got investigations into energy prices… All these issues in addition to the ongoing Energy Market Review technical implementation, and changes in the support mechanisms for renewable energy projects, mean we can expect busy times ahead.
Are you a member of any other committees?
Not at present, but it’s really interesting being involved in the Energy Law Committee so I’m keen to look at other areas. I would highly recommend involvement in committees to anyone.
If you could change only one thing for your members, what would it be?
If I had a pound for every time someone’s asked what the independence referendum outcome is going to be I’d have almost eight pounds by now. I’d change the date of the referendum to bring it forward to be held as soon as possible. Regardless of whether it’s a Yes or a No, a lot of people just want to know how we’re moving forward.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
Mostly my children. Lydia is seven and Adam’s just turning five, so “busy” barely scratches the surface for my wife Faye and me. We’re fortunate to live within fairly easy reach of beautiful scenery and fantastic castles etc, so we spend as much time exploring outdoors as the weather permits. We’ve also successfully indoctrinated both the kids as Dundee United supporters, which means regular trips to Tannadice. Aside from that I’m a keen but fairly inept golfer.