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‘A straightforward decision’: Network Rail extends adviser panel for three more years

Network Rail has reappointed its five core firms – Addleshaw Goddard, Eversheds, Bond Dickinson, Dentons and Maclay Murray & Spens – to its panel until 2019.

The adviser review was run by Network Rail’s legal counsel Paul Hopton and Karen Stapleton. Deputy general counsel (GC) Stuart Kelly said the decision was based on satisfaction with the value provided and the opportunity to plan ahead.

‘We have exercised options under the contract to extend with each of the five firms. We will re-tender when we get to the end of the control period. We are getting the quality in terms of value and it gives us the opportunity to plan for the next control period. It was a straightforward decision whether or not to extend. There was an option for us to do so and of course the firms could have rejected it but they were all delighted to accept.’

Network Rail last carried out a panel review in 2013, when the rail company cut its legal roster from 12 to five core firms, with Dentons awarded a first-time slot on the panel. Eversheds, Addleshaw, Bond Dickinson and Dentons were awarded full-service contracts for work in England and Wales, while Maclay Murray & Spens were awarded the contract for Scottish law matters.

Speaking to Legal Business last year, GC Suzanne Wise said the previous panel of 12 firms was ‘too big to manage successfully.’

She added: ‘I want a panel working in partnership with us, an extension of the in-house legal team, and doing that with ten plus law firms is too many relationships to manage. We didn’t have the right relationships and we were missing the economies of scale. Our legal spend is £10m-£15m [a year]. If you spread that across ten firms you are a relatively small client, but if you spread that among five you start to become a much more meaningful client, you get more value-adds, you get more focus and more attention.’

In May last year Network Rail instructed Eversheds on its legal challenge to the TSSA union in an attempt to limit disruption over a proposed rail strike.