Focus: Geoff Wild, Kent County Council: The Wild hunch

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  • Nevermind procurement, this is a very obvious violation of the state aid rules.

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  • Anonymous is wrong

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  • I have followed this story for the last few years. From what I've seen it does look to be incompatible state aid. However I'd love to hear KCC (or BillyBob) explain which part of article 107(1) of the Treaty they think they are outside.
    For those who aren't familiar with state aids, the four parts of article 107(1) are:
    1. Is the measure provided by the state or through state resources?
    2.Does the measure favour particular undertakings?
    3.Does the measure affect an activity traded between Member States?
    4.Will the measure distort competition, or does it have the potential to distort competition.
    From the information in the public domain it appears all four criteria have been met by the entity offering legal services:
    1) salaries / NI contributions / Practising Certificate exemption of staff providing the legal services are paid for by Kent County Council.
    2) an undertaking is defined as an organisation involved in economic activity. Providing legal services is an economic activity. Restricting their clients to those from the public sector is a red herring. The market in public sector legal work has been open for years.
    3) Legal services are traded between member states. Many law firms are now international.
    4) There is the potential to distort. By way of an example, an international firm which loses out on a big work contract to this organisation may not be able to afford to run an advertising campaign in their Paris office.
    However it would be really interesting for KCC to clear up this confusion. I'm surprised that they haven't already done this.

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  • In an age where councils are supposed to be transparent it is astonishing that Wild hasn't explained how this arrangement is legal. It's not a sign of lacking commercial understanding to ask the question.

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  • It is telling that Kent County Council can't / won't explain how their scheme is legal. Those asking the questions have given good reasons to be concerned.

    Geoff Wild is good at giving interviews about how terrific he is, but not very good at giving answers about how this is a lawful use of funds.

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  • So Wildy was going to be part of Nigel's LawVest?

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  • Interesting that the state aid issue has been identified.
    In Nov 2012 Geoff Wild let slip in an interview that the Commission has received a complaint from a law firm. These investigations typically take 6 months before the Commission decide to make it formal or drop it. So expect news one way or another in May-June. I don't blame the law firm for complaining, this is a competitor with an advantage.

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