Addleshaws, Bevan Ashford join forces

Addleshaw Goddard

and Bevan Ashford have entered a unique joint venture to work on major projects instructions using a common fee scale, and are exploring the possibility of setting up a limited-liability partnership (LLP) as a client point of contact.

Their new approach has just notched up an instruction to advise the Government on its £60bn ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme, which will see every secondary school across the country rebuilt or refurbished over the next 10-15 years.

Both regional firms made it on to a list of 15 before seeking approval for a joint pitch from Partnerships UK, which is working alongside the Department for Education and Skills and local government to deliver the scheme. The offering was then chosen over shortlisted firms Allen & Overy, DLA and Eversheds.

The joint offering sprang from earlier work together on the Government’s NHS Local Improvement Finance Trust (Lift) project. Both are on the panel to advise the public sector on 42 schemes now in procurement and set up an informal conflicts arrangement to keep their private sector clients happy at the same time. If one firm is conflicted from advising a private sector client wishing to bid, the other steps in to offer a similar service on an identical fee structure. The firms share knowhow and also have distinct teams to avoid the cross-fertilisation of competitive information about bidders.

Bevan Ashford chief executive Stuart Whitfield, who is acting as client relationship partner for both firms on the new schools project, said their arrangement had now gone even further. Combined teams have been allocated to the standard documentation and delivery of the project structure and to each of the four pathfinder schemes.

Whitfield said the client was considering the merits of signing its contract with a single LLP or signing contracts with each firm.