In 1983 my career at the Bar, my ambition since I was a teenager, had turned to dust. With the unpalatable taste of failure in my mouth, I applied for an in-house position with BP.

When you are accustomed to rejection, it is hard to be confident of success. So after interviews at BP, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a telephone call from the head of the legal department.

“You are one of our leading candidates,” he said, “and I am just ringing to make sure that you will accept our offer?”

I was keen for the job, but sensed a trap. I decided to take a risk: “You have not actually made me an offer yet, have you? My understanding is that an offer must contain all the elements of the contract.”

“Are you referring to the salary?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied. “Right,” he said, “I will see what I can do and we will send you a formal written offer.”

When the written offer arrived I accepted it, and so my career in the oil industry began.

When I got to BP my boss’s secretary told me the other side of the story. When he telephoned me, my boss was intending to offer me a grade 8 position with a salary of about £9,000. Following our conversation, he made it a grade 9 position with a salary of about £12,000.

 Sometimes it pays to take a risk.


See also:  A Case in Oldham


Chris Thorpe

Chris Thorpe is a respected independent lawyer in the upstream oil and gas industry, and an established lecturer and author. Chris has a LLB in law from Magdalene College, Cambridge and trained as a barrister in London. He worked for eight years' as an in-house lawyer for BP and Marathon. Since 1991, Chris has run his own upstream legal practice, CPTL, which has acted for many upstream clients. He has extensive experience of international upstream transactions, principally in the North Sea, the FSU, Africa and the Middle East. Chris has spoken at many UK and International Conferences and Seminars, both public and in-house. His most popular current lecture is Fundamental of Upstream Petroleum Agreements, a two-day course with accompanying book.