Clydes, Dentons and Wragges win ‘core’ spots on PPF panel

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has cut its legal panel from 27 to 23 firms, in its first major shake-up of legal advisers since it was set up under the Pensions Act 2004.

David Taylor

Clyde & Co, Dentons and Wragge & Co are the big winners in the review, all three winning places on the organisation’s ‘core panel’, which will provide the majority of its legal advice.

Both Clydes and Dentons have been instructed by the PPF in the past, but Wragges has been appointed for the first time following the pitching process.

The fund, which compensates members of defined-benefit pension schemes in the case of an employer’s insolvency, began thinking about the review in late October 2011 before officially kicking off the tendering process earlier this year (10 October 2011, 2 May 2013).

In a novel move, the organisation has entered a sharing agreement with the Regulators’ Procurement Forum, whereby 12 separate regulatory bodies including the FCA, the Postal Service Commission, the Office of the Rail Regulator, the OFT and the Civil Aviation Authority, are given access to the PPF’s panel firms on the terms agreed.

“Effectively, that group of organisations got together and said that if someone goes through a new competitive tendering process, they’ll ensure that we can all use it,” said the PPF’s director of strategy and legal affairs David Taylor. He added that the other regulators had a say in “defining the shape” of the PPF’s newly-appointed panel.

“The primary driver for the PPF was to have a panel suited to our needs,” he said. “We have the right people from our point of view, and have also given a fair bite of the cherry to the procurement panels’ perspectives.”

In addition to the three-strong core panel, a further 10 firms have been appointed to the firm’s ‘insolvency and corporate panel’, which will advise where the PPF makes recoveries from insolvent employers and on restructuring matters.

In addition, 18 firms have been added to the organisation’s ‘specialist and reserve panel’, to provide in depth advice in specialist areas such as litigation and investment work, and give the PPF a range of options in the case of conflicts.

“The idea was to create a panel more aligned to our workload,” said Taylor. “On the one hand we’ll concentrate as much work as possible with our core firms, but on the other we can’t operate with only three firms.”

Panel firms are expected to provide secondees to the organisation, as well as benefits such as training and helplines. “The critical thing for us,” said Taylor, “was the service mentality of the firms. We wanted those firms who understand us – how we work, what we want and what we don’t want.”

Taylor’s role at the PPF has recently been expanded to include policy and strategic responsibilities, in addition to legal. In September, the organisation appointed Dana Grey – former head of its operations solutions team –  to lead and manage its legal offering. Before joining the PPF three years ago, Grey worked as a pensions lawyer at private practice firms including Mayer Brown and Taylor Wessing.

In August, the PPF also finalised its new trustee advisory panel, and is expecting to launch an assessment process legal panel and an auditors panel later in the year. It is hoped the new panels will speed up the organisation’s assessment and wind-up processes.

The panel in full:

Insolvency and corporate: Addleshaw Goddard, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Bond Dickinson, Clyde & Co, Dentons, Mayer Brown, Moon Beever, Nabarro, Osborne Clarke, Pitmans, Squire Sanders, Stephenson Harwood, Wragge & Co

Specialist and reserve panel: Addleshaw Goddard, Ashurst, BLP, Bevan Brittan, Bond Dickinson, Burness Paull, Clyde & Co, Dentons, Dundas & Wilson, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Jones Day, Kingsley Napley, Mayer Brown, Nabarro, Osborne Clarke, Sacker & Partners , Squire Sanders, Stephenson Harwood, Wragge & Co