Ofgem panel places up for grabs in massive rejig

Ofgem, the gas and electricity regulator, has launched a full-scale review of its external legal panel.

According to well-placed sources, firms, including those not on the existing panel, were asked to submit their tender documents to Ofgem earlier this month.

The regulator’s current legal panel comprises Brodies, Burges Salmon, Maclay Murray & Spens, Nabarro Nathanson, Olswang and Simmons & Simmons, and has been in place for just under three years.

The move follows a period of upheaval at Ofgem following the shock departure of the regulator’s general counsel last February. As first reported in The Lawyer (23 February) Nicola Northway, who is now a senior competition lawyer at Barclays Bank, left Ofgem after her role was made redundant. Ofgem scrapped the general counsel role as part of a radical restructure of its in-house legal function as part of an ongoing mission to cut costs.

The move resulted in Ofgem dissolving its central legal team and moving lawyers into five departments created by the then new chief executive Alistair Buchanan. The five new divisions are corporate affairs, corporate strategy, markets, networks and operations.
Ofgem is aiming to cut its budget by £2m to £34m in 2004-05, representing a real term reduction of 8 per cent.

Confirming the competitive tender, an Ofgem spokesman said: “We do currently have a legal panel and we’ve gone to tender to reappoint and will be seeing a number of firms quite shortly with a view to making a decision.”