CGU slashes property panel

Insurance giant CGU has cut the number of law firms on its property management panel from 10 to three in its latest cull of outside legal advisers. CGU slashed its insurance litigation panel from more than 100 to 18 in April this year.

Beachcroft Wansbroughs, Dundas & Wilson and Iliffes Booth Bennett have been appointed to help dispose of about 100 properties belonging to the company.

Stephenson Harwood and Hammond Suddards are two of the law firms cut from the panel.

Orla Collins, manager of external legal resources at CGU, says: “In the region of 100 properties will be disposed of with various values from millions downwards.”

She says CGU has more property since the merger of General Accident and Commercial Union last year.

She says: “We are going through a period of integration. When you merge two companies together you have too many properties.”

Collins says Stephenson Harwood and Hammond Suddards were on the original panel, but she refuses to name the others.

Firms not on the original panel also tendered bids, but Beachcroft Wansbroughs, already on CGU's insurance litigation panel, was the only one accepted.

Head of commercial property at Beachcroft Wansbroughs John Phelps says: “The decision was based on our knowledge of the industry.”

But he says he is surprised at the lack of big names on the new panel. He says: “When I heard the result I asked who Iliffes Booth Bennett were.”

A spokeswoman for Iliffes Booth Bennett says: “It is very good news. Our appointment originates from the GA. We've had that account for 30 years.”

She adds she is especially happy as her firm was up against large City practices.

Collins says CGU demanded more than cost efficiency and quality from the firms in its beauty parade.

She says: “One of our tender questions was a full explanation of how they could assess our business in terms of added value service, such as training.”

She says the panel was cut because it is easier to manage a few firms rather than 10. She says: “It is easier to build up information on their performances.”

In 12 months time CGU will decide whether to reduce the panel further.

Collins says: “GA used only one firm in the past. We might be able to do the same. Once we have disposed of our properties we will need fewer anyway.”