Panel awaits its fate as T-Mobile probes fees

Panel awaits its fate as T-Mobile probes feesT-Mobile is set to renegotiate terms with its UK panel firms in an effort to drive down costs in response to the economic downturn.

The company’s formal legal panel, which two years ago was slashed from 15 to six firms, includes Allen & Overy, Bird & Bird, Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and technology firm Kemp Little.

A source said the in-house team, which now numbers 30 lawyers, is in a position to take on more work. Earlier this year T-Mobile’s four-lawyer international legal team was merged into the UK group.

It ;is ;thought ;that T-Mobile will still use external lawyers for specialist advice on Ofcom regulatory issues, VAT matters and consumer affairs.

The ;renegotiations could mean that next year’s ­scheduled UK panel review will be postponed.

T-Mobile has also saved money in other areas, going directly ;to ;barristers’ ­chambers such as Essex Court, ;Devereux ;and ­Monckton for regulation and litigation advice.

Earlier in the year the company separated its ­consumer and commercial legal ;groups, ;creating ­general counsel roles for both. Guy Perring took over as consumer legal head and Regpal Dhanjal now heads the commercial team.

T-Mobile UK general counsel James Blendis has also taken responsibility for the T-Mobile international legal team, which used to be a separate unit based in Hammersmith.

T-Mobile’s move comes as UK telecoms rival O2 ­overhauls its legal function, installing Herbert Smith and Clifford Chance as sole advisers for the UK, Ireland, Germany, ;the ;Czech ­Republic and Slovakia.