Sainsbury’s ditches property panel review for fixed-fee plan

J Sainsbury has abandoned plans to overhaul its property panel and is now demanding a single fixed fee from its advisers.

The move is part of the supermarket’s plans to roll out a suite of standard-form property documents, including licences to assign and agreements relating to residential disposals and lease renewals.

Head of group legal services David Thurston said he was not expecting to make any changes to the panel in the short-term. Instead, the supermarket is working with its existing advisers to produce around 12 standard-form documents. He said this will enable firms to charge Sainsbury’s a fixed fee for drafting such documents.

“Law firms are currently paying different hourly rates for drafting each of these documents. We want to pay the same fee regardless of which firm does the drafting, so we’ll hopefully make some savings,” said Thurston.

Sainsbury’s has a seven-strong panel for property, comprising Addleshaw Goddard, Biggart Baillie, CMS Cameron McKenna, Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS), Lawrence Graham, L’Estrange & Brett and SJ Berwin.

The supermarket currently farms out the lion’s share of its property work to Addleshaws, because of its longstanding relationship with legacy firm Addleshaw Booth & Co, and DWS, which also handles corporate work.

The initiative is being spearheaded by Katherine Kinch, who joined earlier this year from Clifford Chance as the supermarket giant’s first in-house property lawyer.