Axa warns panel firms as it starts cost-cutting review

Sixteen law firms on tenterhooks as insurance giant set to chop panel places; no chance to retender

Law firms on the Axa panel are waiting to see if they will be chopped from the list as the insurer embarks on a cost-cutting review of its legal services.

Axa has written to the 16 firms on the panel to tell them that it is undertaking a review, but the firms have not been asked to retender for the work. Equally, Axa is understood not to have asked any other law firms to tender for places on the panel.

Firms are expecting to see the panel reduced as Axa said in its letter that it is reviewing the number of law firms it needs because of the extra financial pressure it is facing from Financial Services Authority regulation.

It is understood that Axa is seeking to bring even more of its legal work in-house.

Without a tendering process, the law firms on the panel will have no way of influencing Axa’s choice as to who stays and who goes. One partner at an Axa panel firm said: “Axa will form a view on its own consideration. We are powerless but we’re used to this now.”

Axa last reviewed its panel in 2001, an exercise that saw 16 out of 30 firms lose their places.

Axa appoints law firms on a regional basis, using only certain offices of larger national insurance firms.

The law firm offices affected by this review are: Badhams in Croydon; Beachcroft Wansbroughs in Birmingham; Berrymans Lace Mawer in Manchester; Cartwrights in Bristol; HBM Sayers in Glasgow; Jacksons in Stockton-on-Tees; James Chapman & Co in Manchester; Kennedys in London; Keoghs in Bolton and Coventry; Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw in London; Morgan Cole in Cardiff, Croydon and Reading; Palser Grossman in Cardiff; and the Anderson Partnership in Glasgow.