Fieldfisher loses out, Ashurst, Simmons and Addleshaws ushered in as BP unveils UK panel

Ashurst, Simmons & Simmons and Addleshaw Goddard have won coveted first-time spots on BP’s UK panel, unveiled today (9 July) following a three-month review process.

The panel has expanded its roster from eight firms to ten, reappointing all of its existing firms with the exemption of Fieldfisher, for a three year mandate with effect from 1 July 2014. 

Other firms to be reappointed include Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, Norton Rose Fulbright, CMS Cameron McKenna, Pinsent Masons and Olswang (26 May 2011). 

The energy giant said that a number of additional specialist firms are still being considered for niche roles. 

Counter to expectations, BP declined to add any of its existing US-based advisers to its UK roster. Those including Andrews Kurth, Arnold & Porter and Kirkland & Ellis were thought likely to steal spots having advised the business in US litigation over the past year (12 June 2014).

According to sources, at least one US firm with a City office applied for a spot on BP’s UK panel. 

BP’s group general counsel Rupert Bondy said: “We’ve reselected most of the existing panel but we felt it would help us to bring in some new names as we sought competition, high quality and value from the UK panel.” 

He continued: “We have a good spread of UK-based firms, some of whom are familiar with the issues we face and some who we feel will be able to add value in the longer term.” 

The appointed firms are set up pick up BP’s UK-instructed work, covering all aspects of BP’s activities. 

BP overhauled its panel review process for its latest exercise – its second-ever panel review following its inaugural round in 2011. Sources said that last time “it was a very, very intensive process with a huge amount of time and documentation”. 

The latest review sought to simplify the process, adding a reverse auction and putting an emphasis on cost efficiency. 

The energy giant’s managing counsel Andrew Stewart said that the auction process was “very successful”. He added: “Although it was just one part of our process it helped us to benchmark the offered hourly rates to ensure that we had the right spread of capability at different prices.” 

BP is also conducting a parallel US panel review, which is due to be completed later this year (12 June 2014).