Names, trains and first-class deals

The Department for Transport (DfT) seemed to know it would be on the receiving end of a legal challenge when it awarded the West Coast Main Line contract to First Group, a deal that gifted roles to Ashurst, Burges Salmon, Eversheds and Herbert Smith.

Monckton Chambers’ Michael Bowsher QC was on standby last week awaiting instruction from the DfT, which itself was awaiting notification of any action from Virgin Trains. According to sources close to the case Virgin had wanted to secure some heavyweight silks to challenge the ruling.

Which is exactly what it has done, snapping up Blackstone Chambers’ Michael Beloff QC, a judicial review specialist, and public law barrister Nigel Giffin QC of 11KBW. To have not one but two silks on such a high-profile dispute sends a message of intent to the Government.

Not that Bowsher will be a knock over should the case make it to court. Earlier this year he secured a victory for Eurostar, which was being challenged in the courts over its decision to hand a fleet-building contract to Siemens rather than Alstom Transport.

Nice to see all that, er, training being put to good use.


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