Weightmans, Freeth Cartwright among 17 to win Lambeth BC panel slots

Freeth Cartwright, Michelmores and Weightmans are among the firms to win first-time slots on Lambeth Borough Council’s legal services panel.

A total of 43 firms applied contended for a panel position, which will last for four years and is worth around £3.5m. Pinsent Masons, DAC Beachcroft and Ashfords are among those to have maintained their spots since the last panel took place in 2010, while Clarke Willmott and Berrymans Lace Mawer add to the list [see below] of those winning new places. 

Firms pitching for the panel were scored by their answers to a list of questions – divided as “general and specific” – as well as on price, with the latter counting for 35 per cent of a final score.

Lambeth’s director of governance Mark Hynes told The Lawyer in April that the council was looking for firms that offer training opportunities for those in the local community (see ABScape plan).

“We have reassessed the requirements of our panels that will be re-let from July,” Hynes said. “I expect firms to be putting in bids with an unequivocal commitment to offer training and secondment opportunities for some of our looked-after children who are thinking of a legal career, as well as law students in the borough or at Southbank University.”

Lambeth’s contracts lawyer David Thomas has since said:  ”Owing to the competitiveness of the tender responses we are not only ensuring the council gets the best price for external legal work, but have also secured a number of social value benefits which winning firms included as part of their responses. These will significantly benefit citizens of Lambeth.”

Thomas said it was difficult to predict how much the panel would save the council, partly because it is open for other local authorities to use.

Neighbouring councils who do so will pay Lambeth a fee for setting the framework up, however it is not yet known if this applies to neighbouring authority Southwark Council – back in 2010 the pair agreed to share the cost of instructed counsel for at least four years. 

The two councils are considering launching an ABS spin-off that would keep in-house the “more meaty legal issues” that would traditionally be sent to external counsel (18 March 2013). It is not known when these plans will be finalised, as talks remain in the early stages. 

The new list of legal advisers will see their contracts end in September 2017.

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