One of the smaller legal departments in the local authority arena, Braintree District Council's team should stay relatively untouched by CCT's introduction.
With much of its work already farmed out to local firm Holmes & Hill, Braintree expects its in-house legal element to fall beneath the Govern-
ment's designated u300,000 de minimis level – protecting it from further tendering exercises
The legal services division, established in 1974, was among 70 of the council's key public services to receive a BS5750 last year. Staffed by five legal executives and three support officers, the unit has put out its planning enforcement and enquiry work while retaining core services in-house.
The council's principal legal officer, Patrick Dempsey, who joined the authority in 1988, says the council handles a range of litigation and property work.
“The bulk of the work that is done in-house is right to buy, housing debt recovery, and landlord and tenant work,” he says. “We also have several industrial estates where we let units and houses, so we are also involved in general landlord and tenant planning matters.”
Dempsey says the authority rarely instructs barristers, and Holmes & Hill are instructed almost exclusively unless a conflict of interests arises.
He says it is less expensive to contract solicitors from the firm than it is to employ a specialist in-house and, following the recent departure of the council solicitor, the authority has opted to take additional sections of work outside.