Linklaters partner Fiona Hobbs said: "The Government has used magic circle firms before for the biggest, most important things that are concerning them. Will they be prepared to pay our rates for smaller work? Clearly not. But when it comes to top-tier work, they realise that it is an investment."
The major projects sub-panel is described in the invitation document as "intended to serve clients engaged in very high-value - say, £100m-plus - or complex projects requiring sustained legal resourcing".
The tender process for its replacement is being managed by OGC Buying Solutions, an agency within the Office of Government Commerce, in collaboration with the Treasury Solicitor's Department and other stakeholders. The deadline for expressions of interest was 13 November and formal invitations to tender are expected to be made by mid-December.
Freshfields infrastructure partner Alex Carver said: "The invitations [to tender] will be closely scrutinised to see whether they back up initial reaction that procurement will cover services which magic circle firms will be interested in providing."