ICI reshuffle details kept under wraps

Industry giant ICI and insurance group Eagle Star are keeping a low profile on the restructuring of their legal panels.

ICI has appointed two extra firms to share employer's liability work with Hammond Suddards, the firm whose exclusive three-year contract ended in March. ICI will not reveal the identity of those firms.

Bob Peters, ICI deputy group solicitor, says: “What I don't want to do is make a big song and dance about it.”

It is understood that neither Dibb Lupton Broomhead, which was in early talks with ICI, nor Field Fisher Waterhouse, which had its three-year contract for ICI's property work renewed earlier this year, was awarded the work.

Both Hammonds and Field Fisher were the first firms to handle newly contracted-out work after winning beauty parades three years ago. ICI decided to break up its liability litigation to “try to reduce our overall spend on legal advice”.

Neither of the two new firms have contracts as such. “It's a buyers' market. I don't think we need to do that at the moment,” says Peters.

Eagle Star is currently

reviewing its use of external law firms in claims-handling work as part of a company-wide cost and efficiency drive. Cost-effectiveness of legal expenses is central to the review of lawyers.

The Revenue's £25 million publicity campaign for the self-assessment tax regime is an important reminder for legal firms, says Cyril Dixon.