Beazer slashes UK property legal panel

Construction company Beazer Homes is cutting its property legal panel by more than half as it reaches the final stages of its proposed merger with Bryant.

At present the company uses six external firms, including Davies Arnold Cooper, Ward Hadaway, Hammond Suddards Edge and Eversheds, throughout its regions, which are broken down into the North, the Midlands, the South West and the South East.

Beazer's group legal director Brian Armstrong says: “At the moment the regions just contact the local office of a law firm. What we want to turn the panel into is one firm in the North and one in the South. What we tend to have is regionality at the moment with about half a dozen firms.”

Armstrong says that the review process has been completed and that the legal department is deciding which firms will win the work.

As Beazer reviews its panel, Eversheds, which runs the day-to-day legal requirements for Bryant as it does not have internal lawyers, has bolstered its residential development capability by taking on the former head of property from Stoke-on-Trent-based Kent Jones and Done.

Philip Medford, who is joining the firm as a salaried partner after more than 12 years at his former firm, will be working closely with Bryant and has already been seconded to the company for three weeks.

According to Cornelius Medvei, head of property at Eversheds, Bryant was keen for the firm to appoint a senior lawyer to work with the company.

A hole was left in the relationship when property partner Karen Brooks left Eversheds in May last year to join Hammonds in November, following a period of gardening leave.

Bryant, which is worth more than £2m in annual turnover to Eversheds, was instrumental in taking on Medford and took part in the interview process before he joined the firm.

Medvei says: “It was not so much a question of specialism, but one of resource. Bryant is a major client in Birmingham and it was decided that what was needed was a partner.”

At the time of Medford's departure, Kent Jones and Done decided to merge its property and planning departments, which are now being led by the former head of planning Grant Anderson, who will take over the running of the two units.

Beazer is in the final stages of merger talks with Bryant. The linkup, dubbed a merger of equals, will create a company with a market capitalisation of more than £800m.

Medvei says it is too early to determine whether there will be further changes to the legal setup as a result of the merger.