In-house teams are dominating for the consortia bidding for the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) £4bn IT outsourcing deal.

Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) is advising the MoD on the Defence Infrastructure Initiative project, but with the bidding down to two consortia it was the in-house teams that are doing the bulk of the legal work.

The Atlas consortium has been awarded preferred bidder status, with US services giant EDS and Fujitsu Services leading the consortium and both having insourced the legal work.

Former EDS lawyer Emma Courtney led the EDS effort before she moved to Sun Microsystems to take up the role of UK general counsel. Her former colleague David MacKeith then took up the reins.

“These things are very complex,” said EDS UK head of legal Matthew Bennett. “You need to have a pretty strong relationship between the business and the lawyers. That’s not to say law firms can’t have that strong a relationship, but the in-house teams are better placed.”

Fujitsu’s team was led by Tim Marr, one of its most experienced outsourcing lawyers. Both outsourced a small amount of work to law firms on the subcontracts, with Kemp Little advising EDS and Barlow Lyde & Gilbert advising Fujitsu.

CSC is leading the other consortium, with BT and Thales leading the subcontractors. John Yates of boutique V-lex was the only private practitioner to get close to this consortium, and the small amount of work he did for CSC on the subcontracts was “barely worth a mention”, according to one in-house lawyer. The same phrase was used in relation to Kemp Little and Barlows.

The CSC team was led by David Gray, with Michael Woodfine and Europe, Middle East and Africa general counsel Gawie Nienaber assisting. “If we were to win the contract, there would be a small timeframe to close out the remaining contracting, but most of it’s completed. The MoD’s given us a very tight timeframe. We have to manage our resources. We would have lots of contracts and drafting to do and we would probably involve a law firm then,” commented Nienaber before hearing the MoD’s decision.