John Clayton is a UK corporate lawyer with broad international experience. He has, over the last 20 years, acted as one or both of Head of Legal/General Counsel or Corporate Secretary for four UK FTSE100-listed multinational corporations. From 1992 to 1999 he was Director of Legal & Secretariat for Guardian Royal Exchange plc (financial services and insurance) and from 1999 until 2005 he was Corporate Secretary and Group Senior Counsel for Invensys plc (industrial controls and automation).
His business areas have included such varied industries as pharmaceuticals, scientific instrumentation, horticulture, food, shipping, leisure, electronics, automation, software, engineering and automotive parts. His experience covers transactions in the UK, all EU countries, the USA, Japan, Mexico, Southern Africa, Russia, the Middle East and many other countries. He has managed – with and without external counsel – the legal aspects of major transactions such as acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, securities issues, financing and bank debt programs. On a day to day basis he has covered all the usual areas encountered by business including employment issues, distribution, agency and licensing agreements, IP management, real estate portfolios, insurance programs, retirement plans, group re-organizations. He has broad experience in litigation, regulatory investigations and compliance.
In recent years, he has become particularly engaged in the development of corporate governance and compliance programs and assisting Chairmen and Board Directors in achieving best practices and full engagement with all stakeholders. In the UK he is experienced in board effectiveness and evaluation and provides independent assistance on a cost-effective basis.
He has typically worked within small, high quality internal teams but has also operated successfully in many different legal models such as “full service departments” and as sole legal adviser. He is equally at home in the boardroom or drafting a new policy document or commercial agreement. His preferred style is to become an integral part of management or multi-disciplinary teams seeking quick identification of the important commercial issues and to achieve goals by de-mystification of legal processes and documentation.
In his above roles, John has managed relations with law firms, large and small, on a world-wide basis and is experienced in judging the required balance of external and internal legal resources, the quality of external advice and the reasonable costs that should efficiently be incurred.
John graduated in Law (M.A.) from the University of Cambridge (where he also won a Rugby Football Blue). He then qualified and practised as a UK Solicitor in London with Denton Hall & Burgin (now Denton Wilde Sapte) specialising in corporate and commercial law and including a secondment to New York with Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts (now Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman). He was accredited as a Mediator by CEDR, the UK “gold standard” mediation centre, in 2005.