North West authorities create joint legal panel

The Lawyer - Monday 16th November 2009

By Luke McLeod Roberts

Twenty two councils, police and transport authorities have clubbed together to draw up a four year panel of firms and chambers.

The North West consortium, which includes Liverpool City Council and the Merseyside Police Authority, will give preferential partner firm status to six firms on the roster; Partner firms will have increased exposure to the participating authorities and a greater volume of work than the other firms on the panel.

 To qualify for preferred status they must tender for eight of the 11 categories on offer and provide value-added activities, including training, secondments and precedent-sharing.  The 11 categories are: civil litigation; commercial conveyancing; corporate governance; employment; general conveyancing; general legal advice; IT and commercial contracts; PFI/PPP; planning and environment; police work and social services and education.  In addition, between 25 and 50 chambers are expected to be instructed in 14 different areas.

The consortium has its origins in an initiative of four North West councils that jointly instructed Addleshaw Goddard, Brabners Chaffe Street, Cobbetts, DLA Piper, Forshaws Davies Ridgway, Mace & Jones, Stephensons Solictors and Weightmans in 2006.

A number of public sector bodies have embarked on joint procurement processes recently in bids to increase efficiency.

First Law, organiser of the North West consortium, said: “There are benefits to councils that wouldn’t necessarily have the resources to do this independently. The cost per council is greatly reduced.”