Addleshaws, CMS, Freshfields and Osborne Clarke win key SSE panel spots

Addleshaw Goddard, CMS Cameron McKenna, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Osborne Clarke have won the main spots on Scottish and Southern Energy’s (SSE) first formal panel.

The ‘Big Six’ energy company has slashed its adviser roster from around 30 firms to seven in a panel review launched last year by new head of legal Elizabeth Tanner (20 March 2014).

As well as a main panel for work including litigation, real estate and litigation, SSE has also chosen Gillespie Macandrew, Kennedys and Thorntons to sit on two sub-panels. Kennedys will take on personal injury litigation for the company while Gillespie Macandrew and Thorntons will handle Scottish real estate work.

Freshfields is understood to be working solely on carved-out takeover work after Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) was chopped from SSE’s defence roster in conflict issues earlier this year (20 March 2014). 

Tanner and the team of 70 Reading-based lawyers managing the process had been considering appointing a Scottish panel as well as a real estate sub-division.

The company has now brought those two areas together in a single sub-panel but has launched a separate panel process for firms in Ireland and Northern Ireland. In the past the company has handed work to Irish outfit A&L Goodbody but all firms are still awaiting the results of that process.

The appointment of CMS Cameron McKenna follows its merger with Dundas & Wilson earlier this year (1 May 2014). The two firms, both longstanding SSE advisers, are understood to have pitched jointly for a spot, with energy partner Donald Cumming understood to have taken on the pitch from the Dundas side.

Former Dundas real estate partner Shane Toal is also believed to have won the role for Osborne Clarke, drawing on his SSE contacts established at Dundas (27 February 2013). He left Dundas last year, joining former Dundas partner John Pike and Nick Padget at Osborne Clarke (1 February 2013).

The company did not ask all its advisers to pitch for panel roles but sent out tender documents to a select list at the end of last year. Firms were invited to pitch for spots on the main panel or several sub panels.

Tanner said the process was not driven by the need for more specialist advice but the volume of work coming in. The company will continue to drive as much work through its in-house team as possible.

As well as a panel of law firms, the energy giant also instructs the bar directly and is reviewing a list of favourite advocates.The company currently instructs Blackstone Chambers’ Michael Fordham QC as well as a number of advocates from Temple Gardens, but was looking at other sets for its revamped list.

SSE head of legal Liz Tanner said: “Previously SSE had no formal panel but worked with a number of external agencies to provide legal support. The new panel will provide renewed focus and help us in delivering legal services to business areas right across SSE more efficiently.”