Energy watchdog Ofgem is going directly to the bar on competition, EC and public law in a bid to save money.
Over the past few months the regulator has struck up close relationships with both Blackstone Chambers and Matrix Chambers.
Duncan Sinclair, Ofgem legal director, markets, said: “In these economic times, or for a public body like Ofgem, there’s real scope for the bar to take on still more bespoke advisory work - and not only where litigation is anticipated.”
Ofgem has worked with Rhodri Thompson QC and Jessica Simor at Matrix on the implementation of the third package of EC liberalisation legislation and is currently collaborating with Blackstone in the Court of Appeal.
Sinclair said: “Too many in-house counsel appear to just keep the meter running with their favourite law firms. Working with chambers like Matrix or Blackstone, you find a real effort by the bar to be more user-friendly, with good contact, a desire to understand the underlying issues and a quick turnaround of work. This blurs the distinction between law firms and the less stuffy sets at the bar for advisory work in my fields.
“That’s not to say there’s no need for law firms - clearly they have a unique ability to field large teams of people across specialities that cannot always be matched by the bar.”
Ofgem will continue to work with Herbert Smith, Lovells and Simmons & Simmons.