Govt turns to magic circle for super panel

The government super-panel L-Cat is seeking magic circle expertise for the first time, paying top market rates for its new ‘major projects’ sub-panel.

Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters have all submitted formal expressions of interest in the Government’s ‘Catalist’ panel of approved firms, the replacement for L-Cat.

Linklaters partner Fiona Hobbs said: “The Government has used magic circle firms before for the biggest, most important things that are concerning them. Will they be prepared to pay our rates for smaller work? Clearly not. But when it comes to top-tier work, they realise that it is an investment.”

The major projects sub-panel is described in the invitation document as “intended to serve clients engaged in very high-value – say, £100m-plus – or complex projects requiring sustained legal resourcing”.

No magic circle firms are on the existing L-Cat panel, which is due to expire on 30 April 2007, and which includes Bevan Brittan, CMS Cameron McKenna, Denton Wilde Sapte, Field Fisher Waterhouse and Pinsent Masons.

The tender process for its replacement is being managed by OGC Buying Solutions, an agency within the Office of Government Commerce, in collaboration with the Treasury Solicitor’s Department and other stakeholders. The deadline for expressions of interest was 13 November and formal invitations to tender are expected to be made by mid-December.

Freshfields infrastructure partner Alex Carver said: “The invitations [to tender] will be closely scrutinised to see whether they back up initial reaction that procurement will cover services which magic circle firms will be interested in providing.”