West London boroughs moot combined legal department

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea are looking into combining their legal functions.

Michael Cogher
Michael Cogher

The local authorities, which already share the same legal head in a bid to save costs, are looking at closer cooperation in areas including litigation and employment.

Assistant director for legal and democratic ­services at Hammersmith Michael Cogher has also been director of legal ­services at Kensington and Chelsea since June 2009.

Cogher said preliminary meetings would be held in the next couple of months to determine if “peaks in one authority[’s activity] could be balanced with troughs in another”. He added that this might go short of combining the teams altogether.

“There’s a lot of incremental moves you can do without having to actually be in the same place or be part of the same team,” he said.

Cogher argued that the fact that both Conservative-led authorities are “politically very similar” and “close together geographically” facilitates such cooperation.

He will deliver a speech today (22 March) on ­overcoming the challenges of managing two local ­government departments at The Lawyer’s second Local Government Legal Services Reform Conference.