Alliance & Leicester set to review outside panel

The Alliance & Leicester is the latest bank to review its panel of outside legal advisers.

The panel at present is understood to contain Freshfields, Linklaters, Allen & Overy, Slaughter and May, Taylor Joynson Garrett, DLA and Hammond Suddards.

Clifford Chance has also carried out work for the bank in the past.

Kathrine Hughes, head of legal at the banking giant, says: “[The new panel] is not complete so I do not want to name them. It is still subject to change.

“We will go public about the panel issue when it is sorted out.”

Hughes adds that the bank will still have only one panel, which will continue to handle almost all of its legal work. She refuses to confirm which firms Alliance & Leicester uses.

Only Hammonds and DLA would confirm they were on the pre-revised panel.

A spokesman for DLA adds: “If you go into the Alliance & Leicester you will find they are doing this [reviewing their options] with lawyers to loo roll.”

Hughes says that each firm on the panel will have a different role.

In the past, Linklaters has been a key adviser on the bank’s corporate, stock exchange and IP work.

Slaughter and May is known to act on a large number of its tax issues, and Taylor Joynson advises it on IP and contract law.

The other City firms are understood to act on general corporate work.

Regional and national practices handle some corporate law for the head office in Leicester, as well as branch issues.

Hughes ranks e-commerce expertise as a key factor when picking outside legal advisers.

The bank is currently working on a £15m internet banking project under David Bennett, who heads its treasury division.

Hughes says: “The internet is the biggest issue [when picking law firms], along with the transfer of data around the organisation.

“Firms must specialise in data protection, telecommunications and IT.”

She adds: “Traditional banking law does not always apply.”

The Alliance & Leicester has gone through turbulent times since its flotation in 1997.

Merger talks with the Bank of Ireland and the Woolwich have failed and its share price has also suffered.