Government unveils revamped legal panel

The Government Procurement Service (GPS) has finally named the 48 firms to win spots on its revamped Legal Services framework panel, which replaces the previous Legal Services and ‘LitCat’ panels.

While the number of firms on the panel remains the same, some have won spots for the first time while others – including Bird & Bird, CMS Cameron McKenna, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters and Norton Rose – have missed out.

The announcement follows months of delay over the awarding of the new contracts.

The reshaped panel sees the introduction of a new litigation sub-panel as well as a dedicated finance and financial regulation sub-panel. The old construction and IP panels have gone, while the corporate and finance sub-panel has been split into two.

The big winner is Burges Salmon, which has won spots on seven sub-panels – all save the property and estates sub-panel. The firm was previously on the old full commercial and major projects sub-panels. Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) is on six sub-panels.

Addleshaw Goddard has increased its representation from three sub-panels to five, while Wragge & Co is also now on five sub-panels. DLA Piper and Eversheds both appear on four.

Firms to secure places on the panel which were not on the previous panel include Ashfords, Berrymans Lace Mawer, Bircham Dyson Bell, Burness Paull & Williamsons, Dundas & Wilson, Hempsons, Keoghs, Parabis, Stephenson Harwood and TLT Solicitors. Irish firm Arthur Cox has also bagged a spot on the major or complex projects sub-panel.

One of the firms to have lost a spot on the employment sub-panel is Cobbetts, which yesterday announced it was filing for administration (30 January 2013).

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “This new single cross-government framework was developed in close collaboration with Government Legal Service (GLS) and will drive further savings and improve efficiency when buying legal services. It’s been developed to meet the needs of the whole of the public sector and will provide access to high-quality professional legal services, whilst delivering the best value for the taxpayer.”

The contract will last for two years and is worth between £200m and £250m, according to the Government’s tender notice.

Meanwhile, a review of the NHS Litigation Authority’s (NHSLA) clinical negligence and non-clinical negligence legal panels is expected to finally begin next month after several false starts.

The review, which will see the appointment of firms to both the NHSLA’s panels, was originally heralded last year with advertisements for a ‘supplier briefing day’ on 3 October in Leeds. However, the day was later cancelled, according to sources.

A spokesperson for the NHSLA said the panel review had not been delayed and was due to “happen soon”.

“It’s going to start when it’s ready to start,” added the spokesperson.

The NHSLA’s current panels feature 11 firms. The clinical negligence panel, appointed in 2008, features Bevan Brittan, Browne Jacobson, Capsticks, Clyde & Co, DAC Beachcroft, Hempsons, Hill Dickinson, Kennedys, Ward Hadaway and Weightmans.

Browne Jacobson, Clydes, Hill Dickinson, Kennedys, Ward Hadaway and Weightmans are all also on the non-clinical negligence panel along with Exeter firm Veitch Penny. That panel was last reviewed in 2009.

In the 2011/12 financial year the NHSLA received over 9,100 new clinical negligence claims and more than 4,600 non-clinical negligence claims. It spent over £1bn on clinical negligence claims and around £50m on non-clinical negligence matters.

In April last year the NHSLA appointed NSPCC general counsel Catherine Dixon as its new chief executive, replacing Stephen Walker.

The full GPS panel line-up:

IT, telecoms, media and e-commerce (seven firms): Addleshaw Goddard, Bond Pearce, Burges Salmon, DAC Beachcroft, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Sharpe Pritchard

Property and estates (seven firms): Browne Jacobson, Davitt Jones Bould, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Shoosmiths, Veale Wasbrough Vizards, Walker Morris, Wragge & Co

Employment and pensions (seven firms): Addleshaw Goddard, Burges Salmon, Dickinson Dees, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Nabarro, Weightmans, Wragge & Co

General corporate (including tax insolvency) (nine firms): Ashfords, Burges Salmon, Burness Paull & Williamsons, DLA Piper, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Herbert Smith Freehills, Mills & Reeve, Pinsent Masons, Wragge & Co

Finance and financial regulation (nine firms): Addleshaw Goddard, Allen & Overy, Burges Salmon, Mills & Reeve, Nabarro, Pinsent Masons, Simmons & Simmons, Slaughter and May, Squire Sanders

General commercial (20 firms): Addleshaw Goddard, Ashfords, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Bond Pearce, Bristows, Burges Salmon, Capsticks, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Foot Anstey, Hempsons, Maclay Murray & Spens, MDY Legal, Mills & Reeve, Morgan Cole, Sharpe Pritchard, Stephenson Harwood, Trowers & Hamlins, Wragge & Co

General litigation and legal services (15 firms): Ashfords, Berrymans Lace Mawer, Bevan Brittan, Burges Salmon, Burness Paull & Williamsons, Browne Jacobson, Cripps Harries Hall, Dickinson Dees, Eversheds, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Keoghs, Nabarro, Parabis, Pinsent Masons, Weightmans

Major or complex projects (24 firms): Addleshaw Goddard, Arthur Cox, Ashurst, Bevan Brittan, Bircham Dyson Bell, Bond Pearce, Browne Jacobson, Burges Salmon, Capsticks, DLA Piper, Dundas & Wilson, Eversheds, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hempsons, Mills & Reeve, Nabarro, Pinsent Masons, Simmons & Simmons, Slaughter and May, SNR Denton, TLT, Trowers & Hamlins, Wragge & Co