Exclusive: Lloyds Banking Group in talks to outsource litigation unit

Lloyds Banking Group is in the early stages of talks with a number of panel firms to outsource its retail & wealth and asset finance litigation teams.

According to sources the banking giant sent tender documents out to a number of panel firms last week inviting them to pitch for the tender. The firms, which are understood to include Eversheds, DWF and Irwin Mitchell, have been given two weeks to respond.

Irwin Mitchell, which posted revenues of £200.2m on Friday (26 July 2013), is understood to be leading the pack. If the deal goes ahead sources said the firm is likely to take a group of 70 staff from the bank, although Lloyd’s declined to confirm this.

The project, referred to as Project Canberra, is believed to have been handled by the bank’s general counsel of retail Stuart Morgan, with general counsel of commercial banking Jennifer Nielsen involved on the asset finance side.

The retail & wealth and asset finance litigation teams are spread across five different offices, including Hove, Chester and Edinburgh, and total around 70 staff.

A Lloyds Banking Group spokesperson said: “In line with our strategic review in 2011, we continue to look for ways to simplify the Bank for the benefit of our customers. We are unable to provide further information at this time.”

The news follows the announcement of a new flexible working plan for Lloyds’ two most senior lawyers, group general counsel Andrew Whittaker and deputy Kate Cheetham.

Whittaker took up the role at Lloyds earlier this year, having been general counsel to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) board since April 2000 (4 December 2012). The flexible working plan means the pair will effectively share jobs, with Whittaker contracted to three-day weeks and Cheetham working full time.

Neither Morgan or Nielsen responded to requests for comment.