Pinsents and Wragges in £3bn aircraft carrier deal

Pinsent Masons and Wragge & Co have been handed mandates in a £3bn project to build the two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy.

The Ministry of Defence called on Wragges project partners Michael Whitehouse and Jane Pittaway, supported by IP partner Michael Luckman.

An alliance of defence contractors – including BAE systems, VT Group, Babcock Marine and Thales UK – will construct the two ships, which will be the largest ever built in the UK.

The group was represented by Pinsent Masons partner Chris Kelly, who said: “The two new aircraft carriers will form the front line of Britain’s future defence capability and we are honoured to have played a significant role.”

Pinsents, which counts Babcock Marine and BAE Systems among its clients, won the instruction through a competitive tender.

Outsourcing technology and commercial partner Chris Kelly worked on an ‘alliance’ structure for the contractors, a model more often used in the oil and gas sector.

“It has been quite complex,” he said. “You are all collectively invested to make the thing work. You stand or fall together.”

IP partner Kerys Wyn-Davies and senior associate Annette Blane also worked on the deal.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are scheduled to enter service by 2016, and ensure some 10,000 jobs in shipyards across the UK.

The Wragges team work closely with MoD commercial and procurement director Peter Cockerton. The firm won a place on the MoD panel in 2006 during a review which saw Simmons & Simmons dumped as a preferred legal advisor (The Lawyer, 20 January 2006).

The MoD panel, which is reviewed every four years, comprises: Burges Salmon, Denton Wilde Sapte, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith, Mills & Reeve, Pinsent Masons, Shepherd & Wedderburn and Wragge & Co.