Cobbetts and Dickinson Dees cut in Housing Corporation panel review

Legal week - Thursday 31st May 2007

Author: Michelle Madsen

Field Fisher and Addleshaws secure places on government housing agency’s new-look legal roster

National firms Cobbetts and Dickinson Dees have been slashed from the legal panel of The Housing Corporation, the government agency that funds affordable housing and regulates the sector in England.

The organisation cut both firms from its panel following a review of its legal advisers, which was completed earlier this month.

Historical advisers Trowers & Hamlins and Devonshires have retained their positions on the roster as main firms to the body and will be joined for the first time by City firm Field Fisher Waterhouse.

Addleshaw Goddard won its first mandate on the body’s specialist panel, while Pinsent Masons has been reappointed for employment work.

Some firms withdrew from the review process as they were not prepared to sign up to the Housing Corporation’s stringent terms and conditions. These included strict controls on fees and a call for firms to give preference to instructions from clients that were received earlier, rather than simply considering the fees involved.

Other firms that have previously advised the client not to make the final line-up include Birmingham firm Anthony Collins and West End boutique Jenkins & Hand.

Property boutique Davitt Jones Bould and Southampton firm Coffin Mew & Clover were both appointed for the first time.

The process was run by independent consultants First Law, which ran the body’s previous tender in 2004. Twenty-five firms were invited to tender and contracts for the seven panel firms have been agreed to run for two years with the option of renewal.

The Housing Corporation — which kicked off the review process in January — is responsible for regulating and investing public money in England’s 2000-plus regional housing associations.

The agency operates nine offices throughout England and also functions as a regulatory body, ensuring that housing associations provide affordable housing.