Further details have emerged of the government’s plans to restructure its legal panel after it deferred a review pending a procurement overhaul.
Last year the Gazette reported that the Crown Commercial Service, Whitehall’s procurement arm, had delayed establishing a new agreement to explore how to reduce the costs of services it is provided.
The current panel lists are governed by the cross-government Legal Services Framework agreement, which replaced the Legal Services and LitCat frameworks in 2013 and is due to expire on 31 January next year. The panels consist of 47 firms, including Allen & Overy, DLA Piper, Gowling WLG, Eversheds and Addleshaw Goddard, sharing legal fees totalling £250m a year.
The Crown Commercial Service estimates that the current panel contract delivers a saving of 25%.
The 47 firms supply legal services across eight areas: telecoms, media and eCommerce; property and estates; employment and pensions; general corporate including tax and insolvency; finance and regulation; general commercial; general litigation and legal support services; and major or complex projects.
CCS is proposing that a ‘new solution’ will be built around four procurement ‘blocks’ to provide a ‘more focused approach to the different sectors who have varying requirements’.
The four blocks will be in place by the end of the year.
So far ‘prior information notices’ have been published for block two, which has an estimated value of £320m, and block three, which has an estimated value of £90m.
Block two will have a panel of firms that will provide services to ‘permitted users’ to support a ‘range of significant projects, disputes and initiatives, potentially within specialist sectors’.
Bidding firms must have mandatory specialisms in 24 areas including competition/EU, construction, outsourcing, public procurement and restructuring/insolvency.
Block three will have a panel of law firms that provide specialist legal services to ‘permitted users’ in connection with complex finance matters, capital markets, regulation, highly complex transactions, innovative and/or strategically important transformational change including major or complex projects, and mergers and acquisitions.
Bidders must demonstrate ‘in-depth expertise’ on a range of projects ‘typically characterised’ by exceptional innovation and/or complexity, potential impact on national financial stability, issues of national importance, involve the management of major risks to exchequer/taxpayer interests, and/or the need for extreme urgency or confidentiality.
The CCS says notices for blocks one and four will be issued ‘in due course’.