Buzzy, buzzy bee-gles

The phrase ‘panel review’ is buzzing around the legal market like a swarm of buzzy bees bumping up against the mother of all honey pots. This week they have been flapping around the medical sector, first with German pharmaceutical giant Bayer announcing the who’s who on its new US and Emea panel, then with the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) kicking off its tender process after several false starts.

For all you panel anoraks out there, it’s exciting stuff. As the legal bees circle round the honey (the second hive of which is worth £400m), speculation mounts as to who will stay and who will go at the NHSLA. The authority currently has 10 firms on its clinical negligence panel (these include DAC Beachcroft, Hempsons, Hill Dickinson, Kennedys and Bevan Brittan) and six on its non-clinical panel (starring Clyde & Co, Browne Jacobson and Ward Hadaway).

Not to give any of those guys the heebie-jeebies, but the authority cut its panel from 90 to 15 in January 2001 – could a drastic cut happen again? Fortunately not, according to a spokesperson for the authority, who first told The Lawyer it is not actively looking to slim down the panel before whetting our appetite by adding, “but there may be some flexibility, either upwards or downwards”.

And so the swarming begins.

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