Hermes scrutinises advisers as major legal review is launched

Hermes Property Asset Management has launched an extensive internal review of its legal systems, including analysis of the efficiency of its external legal advisers.

The property fund manager, a division of Hermes Pensions Management, is understood to be reviewing the size of its annual legal spend, which could be in excess of £4m. The type of advice this is spent on and the overall efficiency of the division’s internal legal system will also be investigated.

The review is being conducted at the request of the chairman of the property arm Rupert Clarke, who joined Hermes Pensions Management in January.

It is understood that Clarke is concerned that Hermes does not have a structured system for appointing external legal advisers for its property matters and has been using the same panel of external legal advisers on an ad hoc basis, at the same fee scales, for several years.

As such, Hermes has approached its panel of legal advisers requesting details of their billings for the last year, and a breakdown
of the matters and areas of advice this relates to.

Firms on this division’s panel include Herbert Smith, Lawrence Graham and Maxwell Batley for property and general corporate.
However, Linklaters and Lovells, which advise Hermes’ other property subsidiaries MEPC and Argent respectively, are also expected to be included in the review.

Since his appointment, Clarke has made several changes within Hermes’ property arm, including an extensive reshuffle of the division’s personnel in May.

Director of Hermes Property Asset Management Quentin Burgess, who is understood to be overseeing the review, declined to comment.