Revealed: Lloyds puts litigation unit out to tender as in-house teams merge

Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) is pushing ahead with plans to outsource its retail & wealth and asset finance litigation teams amid changes to the structure of its legal department.

The bank had been talking to panel firms about outsourcing the teams over the summer (29 July 2013), with Irwin Mitchell understood to be leading the pack. However the process, internally known as Project Canberra, was put on hold after The Lawyer broke the news. 

However in an internal memo sent to staff last week, the bank confirmed that the review was going ahead and its litigation and contentious regulatory teams would be brought together. All the team’s involved will now report to litigation and contentious regulatory general counsel Michael Hartridge.

”The retail & wealth, commercial banking and asset finance litigation teams will also move into the new group litigation & contentious regulatory team with effect from the beginning of January,” the memo read. “The GCs are currently developing the necessary transitional arrangements to ensure a smooth transfer of responsibilities.” 

The former disputes chief of UBS Wealth, Philippa Simmons, started her role within LBG’s retail and wealth team on Friday (8 November), just days after the memo was released (11 September 2013).

Under a section titled ‘high-volume litigation work’ the email announced: ”We also thought this would be a good opportunity to update you on our review of the retail & wealth and asset finance high-volume litigation work. The project is looking at various options for the best way to manage this part of our business.

”As part of the decision making process we are soon to issue a request for proposals (RFP) externally, and given there was press speculation the last time we involved third parties, we wanted to ensure you heard about it straight from us.”

The project is believed to be handled by the bank’s general counsel of retail Stuart Morgan, with general counsel of commercial banking Jennifer Nielsen involved on the asset finance side.

Some of Lloyds external advisers, thought to include Eversheds, DWF and Irwin Mitchell, were understood to have been given just two weeks to respond to the previous tendering process.

The news follows a series of senior legal management moves at Lloyds. Simmons replaces former disputes head Aamir Khan who had left the bank in the summer for a GC role at Clutch Group (12 July 2013).

Her appointment was announced in the same week that TSB split from parent group Lloyds in what was one of Britain’s biggest-ever banking shake-ups. TSB’s general counsel spot remains up for grabs (16 September 2013).

A new general counsel for group legal, M&A head Hugh Pugsley, was announced some days later (16 September 2013).

Lloyds did not comment at the time of writing.