Cable & Wireless's in-house legal team has concluded a £250m three-year deal to provide telecommunications services to Shell.
Under the terms of the agreement, Cable & Wireless will work in a strategic partnership with Shell to provide and manage the company's global telecommunications infrastructure.
The Cable & Wireless team was headed by five year-qualified Adrian Thurston, with the legal aspects of the deal also kept in-house by the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies.
Thurston took specialist advice on employment and US tax law from colleagues at Cable & Wireless. Shell handled the matter entirely in-house with Servaas van Heck in the Netherlands and Stephen Kilworth in the US working on the legal aspects of the deal.
Thurston said: “The contract was a great advert for in-house departments generally.”
“In-house lawyers are a lot closer to the business, and that really matters for contracts like this”
Adrian Thurston, C&W
He said that the decision to retain the work was made on the basis that “in-house lawyers are a lot closer to the business, and that really matters for contracts like this”.
According to Thurston, the fact that both sides were represented by in-house lawyers was key in that it enabled them to get past the “soporific legal issues” quickly, and to negotiate the contract on a “win-win basis”.
The contract required what Shell and Cable & Wireless described as a strategic relationship, rather than a supplier-purchaser relationship. The infrastructure provided by Cable & Wireless included voice data and internet services at international and national level at Shell's data centres in Houston, The Hague and Kuala Lumpur.
The complex and ongoing nature of the business relationship made in-house lawyers an obvious choice for the contractual negotiations.
Shell estimated that the Cable & Wireless contract will improve quality and lower costs by up to $50m (£35.18m) worldwide in the three-year period. Thijs Kout, a general manager at Shell, said: “This strategic relationship is key to Shell's overall global infrastructure project as it provides us with the flexibility to introduce new technology into the business while reducing our costs.”