Network Rail has begun its longest-ever panel review process for external adviser work, which could be worth up to £70m over five years from next April.
The rail company’s review will be the first under new group general counsel Stuart Kelly, who was promoted from deputy group GC following the departure of Suzanne Wise in March last year for a non-legal role as senior vice-president for corporate development at Japan Tobacco International . The review will be led by Network Rail route businesses GC Dan Kayne.
Network Rail’s new panel is expected to cover a full range of legal services to support the 26-lawyer in-house team on its corporate functions and route businesses between 2019 and 2024. It was last reviewed in 2013, when Eversheds Sutherland, Addleshaw Goddard, Bond Dickinson, Dentons and Maclay Murray & Spens were all appointed. The latter has since merged with Dentons, taking the number of firms to four.
The panel has an estimated value of £70m and Network Rail is seeking a small number of suppliers that it expects will provide innovative approaches to ensure value for money for the taxpayer. The pitch tender document says: ‘We would like to encourage prospective bidders who are forward thinking, committed to innovation and who are open to alternative ways of delivering our requirement for a full legal service.’
Kelly added: ‘This is a wonderful opportunity for the legal market to demonstrate to us they share our vision of delivering a great service to our customers – that they are forward thinking in terms of their offering and, perhaps most importantly, they want to be our partners in supporting the business to effectively deliver a growing, reliable, safe and affordable railway.’
He recently told Legal Business Network Rail would be spending longer working on its new panel than the company has ever done before, aligning it with a new five-year corporate strategy for the overall business.
Kelly, in his second stint at Network Rail, was previously involved in the decision by Severn Trent to stick with Eversheds as the company’s sole adviser until 2020 and later in the decision by Network Rail to expand the existing panel until 2019.