City firm Kennedys is extending into the regions and opening an office in the Cambridge area.
The move follows the firm's appointment to the National
Health Service Litigation Authority (NHSLA) legal panel in London and East Anglia. The office will be headed by Mills & Reeve partners John Chapman and John Lapraik, who will leave their respective offices in Norwich and Cambridge following Mills & Reeve's failure to secure a place on the NHSLA panel.
Kennedys partner Janet Sayers says that the firm tendered with the NHSLA for a provincial office because it wanted to be seen as a national, and not just a London, practice. "We've worked hard to develop our relationship with the NHSLA and various trusts and health authorities over the past three years," she says.
Kennedys is also expanding its existing clinical negligence practice in London to accommodate the increased workload from the NHSLA. Sayers says the two offices will be fully integrated.
Chapman and Lapraik move with their teams, stripping Mills & Reeve of its clinical negligence practices in Norwich and Cambridge. "We've arranged for the transfer of the two entire teams, which is in the interest of our NHS clients," says Mills & Reeve managing partner Duncan Ogilvy. "It's important that we develop our relationship, because we also do employment, property, project and public finance initiative work for them. In some ways, it's beneficial to focus on the NHS as a client without any influence from the NHSLA to consider."
NHS trusts have control of clinical negligence claims which are below a certain value. Mills & Reeve will retain its clinical negligence practice in Birmingham.
Ogilvy says: "It's a setback, but we have to remedy the situation and run a business that can cope with it."