City quartet guides bidders through Sellafield wind-down

Denton Wilde Sapte, Hammonds, Linklaters and Pinsent Masons are advising the four bidding consortia on the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) £17bn winding-down of the nuclear plant at Sellafield – the UK’s largest non-military procurement in the market.

Dentons is advising Fluor-Toshiba; Hammonds has been instructed by a consortium made up of Washington Group, Amec and Areva; Linklaters by Bechtel/Serco/BWXT; and Pinsents by CH2M Hill.

Linklaters was invited to pitch for three of the four roles, but had to turn two of them down after accepting the Bechtel consortium, according to lead energy partner Charlotte Morgan. Morgan said one of the most interesting aspects of the work is that it has an unusual contracting structure in a highly-regulated industry.

The magic circle firm’s team is also made up of corporate partner Derek McMenamin and head of environment Vanessa Havard-Williams.

Dentons’ energy, transport and infrastructure sector head Christopher McGee-Osborne, who is leading his firm’s team along with energy partner Charles Wood, said just being instructed by a bidder is a very significant role for all the firms involved, regardless of whether their client wins or not.

The Hammonds team is being led by projects partner Rupert Cowen and senior associate Jonathan Leech and Pinsents’ team by energy partner Mark Richards.

Bids will be submitted to the NDA in April. As part of their remit, law firms are having to grapple with novel procurement methodology – the so-called competitive dialogue process. This system is designed to streamline the procurement process, initially allowing for greater flexibility, but preventing negotiation once the invitation to submit final tender stage has been reached, according to Cowen.

The NDA is being advised by Field Fisher Waterhouse procurement partner David Gollancz and Herbert Smith real estate senior associate Philip Beer.