NDA’s new legal chief puts panel under the microscope

As reported by The Lawyer (23 February), interim head of legal Roger Clayson had begun a review of the authority’s three ­panels, with plans to merge two sub-panels and reduce the total number of ­advisers. However, this process was subsequently shelved in anticipation of Higgins’ arrival.

Higgins said internal ­discussions on the matter will take place by the end of this year and a kick-off ­procurement meeting will be scheduled for early 2010. However, he hinted that the roster, which contains 10 firms, may not actually be significantly reduced.

“There’s only so far you can reduce advisers,” he said. “We can’t reduce it much more [because] we need choice.”

The NDA, which ­manages highly sensitive issues, such as the clean-up of the Sellafield nuclear site, has been advised by top 50 firms including Burges Salmon, DLA Piper, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Herbert Smith and Norton Rose.

“We’re not an average client in terms of our work profile. We like firms that match that,” said Higgins.