I was saddened to learn of the sudden death earlier this week of Charles Smith following a suspected heart attack. Charles, a partner in Brodies LLP, was widely acknowledged as one of the foremost environmental and energy lawyers in Scotland, at a time when the regulatory framework applying to both was in a state of rapid flux, requiring careful interpretation and application.
We worked together on the modern equivalent of alchemy – an ambitious attempt to turn mixed garbage, if not into gold, then at least into the equivalent of oil – a reliable and sustainable source of renewable energy. The technical advisers must determine whether this will work; the financial advisers (myself, in this instance) must assess whether it is affordable; but it is the lawyers who arguably have the most challenging and essential task of giving commercial reality to a project through a robust contractual structure. Some of Charles’ most important work must, of necessity, remain commercially confidential; but his published guidance on energy supply companies provides an enduring template of how such projects can be structured. It will remain one of my key references for as long as I advise on renewable energy projects.
Blessed with a first-class intellect, an ability to explain complex legal provisions in clear and understandable English, an encyclopaedic memory and the forensic ability to identify and correct any areas of potential inconsistency or ambiguity in legal drafting, he was an essential member of a team at the leading edge of innovative renewable energy technology. His passing, at the peak of his powers, leaves a gap that will not easily be filled.
I salute a man of many qualities, and mourn the loss of a respected colleague and valued friend.
January 30th 2016