DLA Piper, Pinsents bag DWP instruction

DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary and Pinsent Masons have teamed up to help the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on the renegotiation of its controversial IT contract with EDS.

The completion of the deal brings DLA Piper back into favour with the DWP after a spell out in the cold following a perceived conflict of interest.

The DWP called on Arnold & Porter, Bird & Bird, DLA Piper, Masons and Simmons & Simmons to tender for the advisory role on the IT contracts in autumn 2003 after David Barrett, who had been advising the department, left Arnold & Porter for Simmons.

DLA Piper’s public sector specialist Richard Bonnar won the tender, but the DWP immediately got cold feet because of DLA Piper’s close relationship with EDS. The IT company is one of DLA Piper’s biggest litigation clients. It advised EDS on its dispute over the air traffic control system, for example. With the delays and complications caused by EDS’s IT systems for the Child Support Agency (part of the DWP), there was no guarantee that this project would not end in litigation.

Masons (prior to its merger with Pinsents) was called in to assist the renegotiation of the EDS project. Once the threat of litigation had subsided and the relationship with EDS was better, DLA Piper was called back in to work with Pinsent Masons. DLA Piper will be in charge of the implementation of the new contracts.

EDS in-housers Andrew Sutherland and Stephan Naudé led the negotiations for the IT company supported by a Hammonds team led by Leeds partner Mike Henley, who has looked after the EDS-DWP account for many years.