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THE FINAL stage of outsourcing of British Rail's legal work has been completed, with its litigation tender being split between London firms Vizards and Kennedys.
Eighteen lawyers have moved with the work - nine to each firm - leaving BR's legal department with 14 solicitors. Staff start at Kennedys on 9 January, while Vizards has already placed its lawyers.
Solicitor to the British Railways Board Andrew Sim says the remaining members of the legal team will handle core work as well as providing advice on litigation and property contracts, which went out earlier this year.
"We're down to what I would call a core team which will see us through the privatisation process," says Sim.
"We're largely engaged in privatisation work but we still have a small team of lawyers which monitors and administrates the litigation and property work."
Sim says the contracts were awarded to Kennedys and Vizards after an extensive tendering programme which attracted "countless" expressions of interest, and four final bids.
He says the terms of the contracts "are a matter of confidence between me and the firms", but the length of the agreements are "long enough to get them established in the work". A fixed price has not been placed on the contracts.
"It's worth as much work as they get. There's no guaranteed throughput of work so there's no set value to it," says Sim.
Vizards' senior litigation partner John Livesey says: "We welcome our new professional colleagues from BR to become an integral part of our litigation department."
Stephen Cantle, senior partner at Kennedys, says the BR team will build on the firm's litigation department, which has grown fourfold over the past 10 years.