Kent Legal Services claims record year as £3.7m pumped back into council

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  • "KCC’s legal team run on a zero-budget basis, receiving no internal subsidy and competing for work in the open market."

    Great, so where is all the "open market" work advertised? Seems a bit odd that the legal team site is embedded in the KCC website with no mention of how other law firms quote for work.

    I also note that Legal Services are based in County Hall - I assume they pay KCC market rate for all their offices, utilities etc, including ensuring that they are paying approriate levels of business rates for their office space?

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  • The state aid issue would, surely, have been no.1 on the list of matters to consider and resolve before embarking on the venture and will be a question asked by each potential LA client.

    To be honest, though, as a taxpayer I really don't care if a set of LA lawyers provide cheaper legal services to lots of other public sector bodies, thereby freeing up money to be spent on public services rather than lining private sector partners' pockets. And I'm a private sector lawyer

    As someone above commented, trebles all round could be the outcome. Maybe once the journalist in question has done the job properly we might get a fuller story addressing the various obvious points that commentators have raised?

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  • In a previous interview in the lawyer, Geoff Wild mentioned that there had been an unsuccessful state aid investigation but didn't provide any details. It would be interesting to know what actually happened, given that this question seems to dog Kent County Council's legal services miracle.

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  • I'm bemused that legal experts are online moaning about state aids infringements by a council making large profits. Do these law firms have so few state aids experts that they cannot make a compelling complaint to the European Commission on this issue? It not, why should the public sector instruct these firms?

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  • isnt this simply a case of the council saying - we have [10] in house lawyers. they did [1200] hours each last year. at panel charge out rates that would have cost us £3m but in fact as we employed them in house it only cost us £1m. As such, we have made a profit of £2m. Of course - it kind of assumes that it is at all times completely appropriate that all work should be outsourced - which is not really an appropriate assumption.

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  • As a number of people have pointed out, they have not "made" money to be put back into Kent. The legal team has simply returned some of the money they charged as fees to the council for the work they did. Kent Legal Services charges the council (i.e. their client) fees as they do not receive any operating budget from the council. The difference (what is described as "profit" here) is simply what is left over when they have done fees minus costs.

    That is not to say that this isn't a good thing. Had the council used external lawyers, the profits would have remained with the law firm. Here, at least, anything above and beyond the running costs of the legal section has been returned to the council. Nevertheless, it is rather disingenuous to us the terms "profit" and "extra cash" (especially as you could claim that this simply indicates they are overcharging the other cost centres in the council in the first place).

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  • It has been interesting to read the comments on this article, notable in the main for remaining conveniently anonymous and largely mistaken. There is more than a tinge of the green-eyed monster about many of them. The fact is that by working for over 300 public sector bodies nationwide - in addition to Kent County Council - Kent Legal Services has generated real income and genuine profits of over £11m over 10 years, with no state aid, no internal subsidy, no guaranteed work and all its costs above the line.

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  • So if the previous posting is correct that means KCC legal services are taking council taxpayers' money from "over 300" (that's narly all English local authorities then) public bodies. So we are all subsidising Kent residents' council tax???

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  • No. It means they are saving council-tax payers millions of pounds that would otherwise go to the private sector, who would charge significantly more than Kent.

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  • Anon 11:42, 22 August

    All people want to know is what structure is being used. Then the public can make an informed decision about the state aid compliance of the Kent County Council legal services model.

    If there genuinely is no subsidy this should not be a problem. After all, the intellectual property in developing the model came from people paid for from the public purse.

    It's a bit rich of you to say that others are "conveniently anonymous" when you have chosen not to tell us who you are. Kent County Council or Geldards by any chance?

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