Accountancy giant PwC has secured a coveted spot on a government panel with a value of £400m to provide general legal advice services.

Despite increasing the value of the panel from £320m to £400m, the government has slashed its supplier pool to the Crown Commercial Service by nearly two-thirds – from 47 firms to 18 firms, split over two tiers. The Crown Commercial Service was set up by the Cabinet Office in 2014 to get a better deal for the taxpayer by centrally managing public sector contracts with commercial suppliers. 

In the legal services panel announced this week, PwC is among 12 ‘tier one’ suppliers to be awarded a contract in the first instance. Should tier 1 suppliers be unable to accept a contract, it will be offered to one of six ‘tier two’ suppliers.

The two-year panel agreement was set up to provide advisory services principally on matters of English and Welsh law. Suppliers are also required to be able to supply Scottish law when required – if not directly, then through subcontracted firms or other approved arrangements.

Legal advice on international jurisdictions is also in scope.

There is no upper or lower limit on the contract values that can be awarded under the panel. However, the Crown Commercial Service said that requirements below £20,000 may be exempt from procurement from the panel.

In a statement to the Gazette, PwC said: ‘PwC, in consortium with Holman Fenwick Willan, Howes Percival and Sharpe Pritchard, is delighted to have been selected to be a legal services provider for the Crown Commercial Services legal panel.

‘The consortium has an exceptional range of capabilities to provide high-quality legal advice and look forward to working with government departments across a broad range of projects.’

Tier 1 suppliers:

Bond Dickinson, Burges Salmon, DAC Beachcroft, Dentons, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Gowling WLG, Linklaters, Mills & Reeve, Pinsent Masons, PwC/Holman Fenwick Willan/Howes Percival/Sharpe Pritchard and TLT.

Tier 2 suppliers:

Bevan Brittan, Browne Jacobson, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Hogan Lovells, Simmons & Simmons, and Slaughter and May.

Sharpe Pritchard senior partner Alastair Lewis said: ‘This is a marvellous achievement and a great example of a successful collaboration between four firms with expertise and experience which complement each other.

‘Between us we are putting forward a best of breed solution to enable the government to benefit from the combined strength of the four firms.’

The 23 mandatory areas of law for panel members include contracts, competition, EU, environmental, information, intellectual property, outsourcing, public procurement, real estate and restructuring/insolvency.

The 12 optional areas of laws include education, child, franchise, public inquiries and inquests, telecommunications, and international trade, investment and regulation.