Masons wins NHS EDS work after A&O and DLA conflicted

Masons has helped settle the NHS’s dispute with IT provider EDS, setting it up to retender the contract to Cable & Wireless.

The director general of the national programme for IT in the NHS Richard Granger turned to Masons IT partner Clive Seddon because his regular advisers – Allen & Overy (A&O) and DLA – were conflicted out. Seddon won the first-time instructions following a beauty parade.

EDS is DLA’s biggest IT litigation client and the firm’s technology, media and litigation head Julian Stait also has a very close relationship with Cable & Wireless. A&O is also a key EDS adviser.
EDS threatened to sue for £10m compensation when the NHS terminated its contract to provide email services. EDS handled the negotiations and settlement in-house.

Cable & Wireless has taken on a nine-year contract thought to be worth up to £90m. A&O advised the NHS on the new contract with Cable & Wireless, which is a good sign for the firm, which must be hoping that it does not lose out when Granger’s key A&O contact Laurence Jacobs leaves for Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy next month.

Jacobs worked on the closure of this deal with fellow A&O partner Jane Finlayson-Brown, who has taken on many of Jacobs’ responsibilties for the national programme. Her team will supply the ongoing legal support on the Cable & Wireless contract.

Despite his move to Milbank Tweed, Jacobs will continue to advise Granger on the national programme because of the key role he has had over the past two years.

Cable & Wireless handled the deal in-house rather than going to any of its regular IT advisers, which include Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, Pillsbury Winthrop and Shaw Pittman.