Lattice Group's real estate arm Lattice Property Holdings is understood to be culling its extensive legal panel
It is believed that the review will dramatically cut back the number of City firms used, as Lattice Property looks to drive costs down and create a panel that better reflects its changing business. The review follows the appointment of Stephen Bentzien as Lattice Property's legal head late last year (The Lawyer, 19 November 2001). Bentzien, from Associated British Foods, replaced Angeline Swift, who retired from the role. The panel was set up in 2000 as the successor to British Gas Property to continue the massive task of cleaning up and disposing of former gasworks sites. The legal panel ballooned to enormous proportions to handle the programme. The process now, though, is at a relatively advanced stage. Lattice Property's other main role is the ongoing management of Transco's property portfolio. Ashurst Morris Crisp is understood to be among those firms unlikely to receive new instructions from Lattice Property, but will continue to work on a number of files, including the company's interest in the Millennium Dome site. A source at the firm said: "Whether or not we're on the panel, we're still doing some work for them." The legal panel is currently made up of some 20 firms, understood to include Addleshaw Booth & Co, Ashursts, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Burges Salmon, DJ Freeman, Dundas & Wilson, Herbert Smith, McGrigor Donald, Osborne Clarke, Sherwin Oliver and Wragge & Co. The now defunct Ander-sen Legal firm Garretts was also on the panel. Relationship partner Andrew Lewry, who previously worked for Lattice Property at Ashursts, took his files to Dundas. Many other regional players have also been on the list to cater for the portfolio's UK spread. The property panel is separate from Lattice Group's smaller panel, but there is an overlap between the two. Bentzien declined to comment on the details of the review. "The review hasn't been formalised yet," he said. "All law firms that are instructed by Lattice Property are aware of the annual review and this is part of the basis on which they're employed. There are no other issues necessitating this year's review."