Network Rail prepares to revamp legal panel under new general counsel

Network Rail has invited 20 firms including Clifford Chance, Eversheds and Simmons & Simmons to pitch for its external legal panel as the transport infrastructure group’s new general counsel prepares to review its roster of advisers.

Suzanne Wise
Suzanne Wise

The company, which owns and operates much of the UK’s rail infrastructure, has asked all its 12 current panel firms to retender and has requested applications from a select group of additional firms.

The current panelists are Addleshaw Goddard, Berrymans Lace Mawer, Bircham Dyson Bell, Bond Pearce, Clifford Chance, Eversheds, Kennedys, Schofield Sweeney, Simmons & Simmons and Winckworth Sherwood, as well as Scottish firms Maclay Murray and Spens and MacRoberts.

It said a further eight firms had been “selected for their relevant experience” and invited to a tender launch presentation in December. They will then be asked to submit their applications in January in response to the launch and attend pitch meetings in February, before the process is concluded by April.

The move follows the hire of Premier Foods general counsel Suzanne Wise into the same role at Network Rail earlier this year (10 September 2012).

The last panel review was in 2009 (27 April 2012). The previous revamp was three years earlier, with Addleshaw Goddard, Bircham Dyson Bell, Lovells and Thomas Eggar winning places (10 July 2006).

Wise said in a statement: “It’s over three years since Network Rail last undertook a panel review and to make sure we continue to get best value from our panel and take advantage of innovative new ways of working, it’s important that we go out and test the market. I expect that the new panel will be in place by no later than the start of our next financial year in April 2013.”

The company added: “The firms are being asked to provide legal support that will match the needs of Network Rail’s entire business, but especially in the areas of corporate projects and commercial contracts, litigation, employment and property.”

Wise set up an inaugural legal panel while at Premier, giving spots to Eversheds, Slaughter and May and Wragge & Co (29 March 2010).