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Dealing with customer claims in court can be both expensive and time-consuming. Sophie Gould talked to Emma Langford, Head of Legal at Thomas Cook Group Airlines, about the process of implementing a mediation scheme and the potential benefits it can bring to a business and its customers.
Tell us a bit about your background and the business …
I’ve been with the Thomas Cook Group for nearly 12 years, having joined as a junior corporate/commercial lawyer from private practice. Whilst in private practice I was seconded to a client as their sole in-house lawyer - I was a 2PQE solicitor covering
for someone with eight years’ experience. It was a huge challenge but I loved it and it made me realise that in-house was for me.
I’m currently Head of Legal for all the airlines in the Thomas Cook Group. I cover the UK, German, Belgian and Scandinavian airlines and my legal team is based across these four jurisdictions. Previously, I was Head of Legal for the UK airline.
Moving to the Group Airlines role was a big change in terms of transitioning from an English law, UK focused team to a multi-cultural, multi-language team. The challenge is to get everyone to think of themselves as one team and to act that way.
There are around 20 people in my team and we focus on three main areas: contracts, employment and litigation. As a group overall, there are three distinct functions: group, tour operator and airlines. Whilst all the contracts my team work on are aviation
specific, there are other compliance related topics, such as data protection and competition, that are the same across the group. We have to make sure we’re aligned and have consistent policies and procedures for these areas.
I’ve experienced both sides of being in-house - from the sole lawyer having to deal
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Since joining LexisNexis in 2009 Sophie has worked on developing our legal and business content for the in-house legal community. She also runs various networking and mentoring groups for in-house lawyers and works with schools to promote social mobility within the legal profession.
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