Kirklees Council to build panel of barristers

Kirklees Metropolitan Council in West Yorkshire is to create a panel for barristers, one of the first local authorities in England and Wales to do so.

The panel has been designed primarily to secure economies of scale, and head of legal services Susan Betteridge pledged to reduce the annual spend on counsel from its present £350,000 to £300,000 or less.

The panel will consist of four sub-panels covering childcare, child protection, adult social services and employment law and housing.

Seventeen chambers have so far pitched for the work and a final decision will be made in March.

Betteridge said: “We’ll be looking at solicitors later, but most of our [external] legal spend is on counsel, so that’s our priority.”

Betteridge added that the council could also be interested in a partnership relationship with a firm of solicitors.