Four councils set up shared legal panels

Four local authorities in the West of England have pooled together to appoint 12 law firms and 20 barristers’ chambers to a series of shared legal panels.

North Somerset Council led on the new legal services framework agreement. Other consortium members include Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council.

North Somerset deputy head of legal services Fiona Robertson said the creation of shared panels was driven by cost-cutting targets. She expected the move to save the consortium between £100,000 and £250,000 over four years.

The new agreement has created four law firm panels covering childcare, planning, property and public law and procurement. Selected firms include ­Ashfords, Burges Salmon, Charles Russell and Clarke Willmott.

Eight barristers’ panels have also been set up, ­covering adult social care, childcare, contract disputes, employment, judicial review, planning, prosecutions and village greens. Chambers appointed include 39 Essex Street, Landmark Chambers, 11KBW and 3PB.

This is the first time the councils’ legal departments have worked together. Each authority will retain its own legal team, although Robertson said there was some scope for sharing expertise.

“All four authorities deal with the same sorts of issues, so we hope to pool some of that work rather than ­continually reinventing the wheel,” she said.