Taylor Woodrow returns to ditched panel firms

Housebuilder Taylor Woodrow has reviewed its property panel, re-appointing a number of firms it abandoned four years ago.

Walker Morris and Wragge & Co, both axed from the company’s informal panel in February 2003, are back as part of an expanded new-look line-up.

Taylor Woodrow group general counsel Jeremy Sampson told The Lawyer: “The panel gives the regions a wider range of firms to choose from [than the previous panel]. These things evolve over time and it reflects a different business [from that of February 2003]. We have an entirely different structure for the company now.”

New to the panel are Manchester-based Cobbetts, Wales and East Midlands firm Geldards and West Sussex-based Rawlison Butler.

Also new is London-based Campbell Hooper, where housebuilder group head Bill Bidder joined the firm from positions as head of legal at Bryant Homes and legal director of Taylor Woodrow’s developments business in April 2003.

No firms have been dropped, however, with CMS Cameron McKenna and Eversheds having both retained their places. Edinburgh-based Shepherd & Wedderburn has been appointed for work in Scotland.

According to sources close to the company, when chief executive Iain Napier joined Taylor Woodrow in 2002 from hotel and pub business Six Continents, then known as Bass, he was aghast at the complexity and spend of the legal team and ordered Sampson to initiate a cull.

A four-month review culminated in the termination of informal relationships with 10 firms, including Hammonds, Walker Morris and Wragges, as well as 14 in-house job cuts.

However, in May 2006 Napier announced that he was leaving the company this spring to become chairman of Imperial Tobacco.