Trio of councils join forces for panel review

And while some groups are falling apart, others are getting together.

Three city councils in the region took the unusual step of agreeing to conduct a joint panel review for barristers’ chambers. Derby, Leicester and Stoke-on-Trent began the process in April, and received more than 30 expressions of interest.

The tendering process has been extended and is likely to be completed by the end of July, when the selected chambers will have first bite at a combined legal spend of £250,000 a year.

Director of legal services at Stoke-on-Trent City Council Peter Wilson confirmed that the three city legal teams have done benchmarking and other joint projects in the past, but that the panel review will be their first joint procurement.

“It’s about cost primarily, but also about standard of work,” he said. “We want guaranteed service and we want to use our combined purchase power.”

Reflecting a new emphasis on intelligent purchasing among local authorities, the three councils are assessing chambers on their fee rates for each level of barrister, including discounts, as well as any potential benefits offered, such as training, shadowing or professional development.