Value for money prompts Arts Council to form panel

Arts Council England has unveiled its first formal law firm panel as part of a bid to obtain better service and value for money from its external lawyers.

The Arts Council is the national development agency for the arts in England. In total, 15 firms will advise it on areas such as charities, corporate governance, property, information law and construction.

Berwin Leighton Paisner, Bircham Dyson Bell, Dickinson Dees, Nabarro Nathanson and Ward Hadaway have all won places on the Arts Council’s charity and corporate governance panel. The panel is especially significant because the firms will be recommended to all of the Arts Council’s 1,100 regularly funded organisations for charity and corporate governance advice.

Pinsent Masons has won the role of adviser on freedom of information and data protection issues, while Finers Stephens Innocent will act as the sole adviser on intellectual property matters.

Collyer-Bristow and Reynolds Porter Chamberlain have both won appointments to advise on construction, while Trowers & Hamlins and Ward Hadaway will share the employment work. Blake Lapthorn Linnell is celebrating its first ever instruction from the Arts Council, winning the insolvency and securities advisory role.

The Arts Council announced the tender late last year, with around 23 firms bidding for work in each of the six practice areas. The new appointments are for a three-year term, with an option to extend for a further three years. The Arts Council’s head of legal Scott Pugh, who joined the organisation in January 2004, oversaw the review.

The latest appointments follow last year’s review of the Arts Council’s property advisers, which saw Davitt Bould Jones, Eversheds and Michelmores appointed to the property panel.

Between 2003 and 2006, the Arts Council will invest £2bn of public funds into the arts in England, which will include funding from the National Lottery. It is estimated that the organisation spends in excess of £500,000 annually on external lawyers.