DLA has won appointments to advise on two light rail schemes following a groundbreaking recommendation from Partnerships UK that the projects should share the same legal adviser.
DLA is now advising Metro, the West Yorkshire passenger transport executive, on its £500m Leeds Supertram scheme as well as Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council on Phase 1 of the £200m South Hampshire Rapid Transit scheme (SHRT1).
The selection process was run by Partnerships UK, the company set up by the Government to promote public-private partnerships and which is now 51 per cent owned by the private sector. Twelve shortlisted firms were pared down to five and then to two through an interview process which was spread over two weeks.
Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy and Denton Wilde Sapte are all understood to have reached the final five firms.
“What DLA will be doing is a real first. The mandate for DLA and Partnerships UK is to draw on what is good from past shcemes and to think creatively on how to move this sector forward”
Mark Swindell, DLA
A spokesperson for Partnerships UK said: “Having one legal adviser on concurrent projects marks a significant departure from existing practice and will lead to greater efficiencies in procurement and on the use of legal and financial advisers.
“It is expected that the Metro and SHRT1 light rail projects will set the standard for PFI in this sector for the next wave of schemes.”
DLA's head of commercial and projects Mark Swindell said: “Partnerships UK is very keen to make sure that projects are developed as efficiently as possible.
“What DLA will be doing in developing a legal template for these and future light rail projects is a real first. The mandate for DLA and Partnerships UK is to draw on what is good from past schemes and to think creatively on how to move the sector forward.”
He puts the win down to a decade of the firm acting in the heavy and light rail industry and the expertise of his newly expanded team.
“We're combining our geographical strengths – having full-service offices in both London and Leeds – with the transport expertise gained during and since rail privatisation with Connex and South West Trains. It will help place DLA at the forefront of future rail projects both in the UK, Europe and internationally, using our full-service offices in those territories.”
Swindell is directing teams for both projects. Nick Painter, who joined as part of DLA's Garretts acquisition in December 2000, is acting as lead partner for Leeds, and Andrew Fitchie, who recently joined as a partner from the World Bank, is leading on the SHRT1.
The DLA team will provide expertise in public transport law, procurement law, financial and performance regimes in rail and light rail projects, planning and Transport and Works Act issues, project finance and real estate.