Banks set to thrash out transparency on billing

ABN Amro and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) are looking at radical plans to ditch traditional billing methods in a bid to make more savings on the amount spent on their law firm panels. Part of the process will include access to billing details on live transactions.

The pair are following the example of investment banks such as Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, which have implemented successful systems that enable them to scrutinise closely how their external legal spends are split between advisers.

RBS deputy general counsel Chris Campbell confirmed that the bank is hoping to move away from traditional paper billing and that RBS will actively pursue this goal after it concludes its panel review next month.

Campbell said he expected all of the bank’s main law firms to adopt the new system once it is introduced.

Dutch bank ABN is also actively pursuing plans to introduce e-billing, with development and communications director David Kemp leading the charge.

Kemp said the bank is still very much at the research stage. “We’re investigating it as a defined concept and also looking at the broader issue of end-to-end matter management,” he said.

Barclays, which adopted e-billing as part of a wider group initiative around 12 months ago, is taking e-billing to the next level. Barclays’ annual external legal spend is currently £100m.

Barclays chief operat- ing officer for legal and compliance Richard Daniel said: “Within legal we’re now focusing on the benefits of spend management technology from a control and management information perspective. This includes tracking our spend and analysing it in more detail for trends.

“This is information that will help us adopt an increasingly structured approach to the sourcing of our legal expertise and identify trends to enable us to target our spend more effectively.”