Panel firms prepared for Zurich Commercial rejig

Law firms on Zurich Commercial’s law panel face an imminent shake-up

The three-year contracts won by 16 firms in 1999 are due for a reappraisal.

A spokesperson for Zurich said: “We can confirm that we’re reviewing the legal panel at the moment and we’re hoping to make a decision by the end of June.”

Zurich Commercial was formed in 1999 from the merger of Eagle Star and Zurich. During that period the merged firm, Zurich Commercial, undertook a review of external legal services and slashed the number of providers from 100 to 16. The subsequent years have seen a restructuring of the company as the two sides become more fully integrated. Zurich, as part of that development, is now ready to reassess its legal panel.

At the last review, the law firms were divided into three panels. On the Zurich panel were: AE Wyeth & Co (now Vizards Wyeth), Beachcroft Wansbroughs, Davies Arnold Cooper (DAC), DLA, Hammond Suddards Edge, Jacksons and James Chapman & Co.

“[The Zurich Commercial] panel is the one everybody wants to be on”
Ric Martin, Kennedys

Buller Jeffries, Keoghs, Palser Grossman and Weightmans formed the Zurich-Eagle Star Direct panel. A third group was established to provide regional coverage, which comprised three firms from Northern Ireland and two from Scotland. Zurich is understood to want to consolidate those panels that it inherited.

The current situation among law firms can best be described as circumspect. Some panel firms are saying that a review is set to begin, others are claiming they know nothing about it, while the remaining few are refusing to comment.
One Vizards Wyeth partner said: “We haven’t heard anything official. We’re sitting here waiting to be told, as panel members, if there is to be a review.”

A Jacksons partner was similarly nonplussed.

Kennedys is understood to be keen to gain work from Zurich.
Chief executive Ric Martin said: “It’s the panel everybody wants to be on.” Partners at DAC and Weightmans said they were all prepared for the review process.

The spokesperson from Zurich would not comment on how many firms were expected to feature in the new panel.