Southern authorities team up to bulk-buy new panel

A consortium of 18 local authorities in the south of England has slashed its legal costs by up to a third by selecting a combined legal panel.

The local authorities’ combined annual legal spend is between £1m and £2m on average, with the panel firms offering reduced rates from between £150 and £200 an hour to between £100 and £150 an hour.

John Crawford, head of legal at Salisbury District Council, told The Lawyer: “The bulk purchasing power of the group has achieved a better value for money.”

The new panel consists of nine firms. Browne Jacobson, Davitt Jones Bould, Michelmores, Moore & Blatch, Foot Anstey, Paris Smith & Randall, Sternberg Reed Taylor & Gill, Veale Wasborough and Weightmans all won places.

The consortium was led by the heads of legal at Salisbury District Council, Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire County Council and North Dorset District Council.

Almost 80 firms expressed an interest in tendering for the work, but only 26 were invited to give presentations after a written questionnaires weeded out unattractive firms.

Crawford said the firms that won places on the panel offered the best value for money as well as other benefits such as training and access to law libraries.

The agreements will last for three years with the possibility of an extension for a fourth year.