Clydesdale Bank launches panel review following restructure

Clydesdale Bank has launched its first panel review since appointing general counsel Jennifer Darbyshire in 2012 and overhauling its legal team. 

Tender invitations were sent out last month to several firms not on the current list as well as the 14 firms already on the bank’s panel. For the first time the bank’s commercial real estate advisers have also been broken out to another panel, following the transfer of Clydesdale’s investment real estate book to its parent, National Australia Bank (NAB), last year.

Firms already on Clydesdale’s national and regional rosters include Scottish firms Harper Macleod and Brodies as well as DLA Piper and Norton Rose Fulbright. Pinsent Masons is one of those understood to have been invited into the process for the first time following internal recommendations at the bank.

Clydesdale, which shares panels with NAB subsidiary Yorkshire Bank, is now looking for three rosters: a national roster, a business and private banking roster with regional panels within it and a NAB commercial real estate panel. The review follows several months of internal consultations and background research conducted by the in-house team.

The process is being led by legal projects head Jill Brown, who heads up projects, one of the new in-house divisions under Darbyshire. 

Darbyshire took up the role of general counsel and company secretary in 2012 and has since reorganised the team into six divisions headed up by deputy general counsel Lesley Blair. Consumer law head Neil Craig reports into Blair, as well as head of business banking John Alpine, head of dispute resolution Kirstie Ross, employment law head Sarah Nelson and retail and commercial services legal head David Mallon. 

The last review in 2011 was carried out by the bank’s former general counsel Michael Webber (26 September 2011). Webber moved to Sussex Community NHS Trust at the end of last year after seven years at Clydesdale.

He consolidated the bank’s panel, initially reducing the number of advisers it used nationally (19 May 2011) before revamping its regional panels in November (24 November 2011).

Brabners Chaffe Street and Matthew Arnold & Baldwin (MAB) were among those to win spots on the rural panels in 2011 for a three-year period. 

Since 2012 Clydesdale has been undergoing a mass restructure, resulting in the loss of 1,400 jobs and a renewed focus on its presence in Scotland and the North of England. That decision could spell success for firms like Brabners as well as its Scottish advisers like Brodies and Morton Fraser.

The outcome will also be an interesting one for firms like CMS and Dundas & Wilson, who merged last week (1 May 2014). Pinsent Masons’ Scottish presence, following its 2012 merger with McGrigors (6 February 2012) could also be a boon for its own panel bid. 

Clydesdale said there was no set timeline to finalise the new panel, but expected it to be completed within the next three months. 

Current national panel

Addleshaw Goddard
CMS Cameron McKenna
DLA Piper
Dundas & Wilson
Harper MacLeod
HBJ Gateley Wareing
Hogan Lovells
Morton Fraser
Norton Rose Fulbright
Optima Legal
Thomas Eggar

Current regional panel

Addleshaw Goddard
Brabners Chaffe Street
DLA Piper
Hill Dickinson
Matthew Arnold & Baldwin