Part of an ongoing and concerted effort to manage the public purse for legal advice, the Government has announced plans to set up a £650m marketplace for the public sector to procure legal services.
Central government, devolved administrations and public bodies would procure legal advice through the marketplace, according to a pre-tender notice published by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) this week.
According to the notice, ‘two commercial vehicle types being considered, a dynamic purchasing system, and / or a framework. The choice of commercial vehicle(s) will be decided after the results of in-depth market and customer engagement sessions currently being planned.’
The scope of services will include 35 ‘practice sectors’ such as banking and litigation, and bidders will have to demonstrate full capability to advise in at least one of ‘75 smaller practice areas’ such as travel law and costs drafting.
Groups of firms will also be invited to bid in a full contract notice which is expected by the end of next month.
This is the latest of CCS’ moves to reshape legal advice procurement to trim costs.
A two-tier panel of 18 firms for general legal advice services was unveiled in March. Magic Circle firm Linklaters was joined by Bond Dickinson, Burges Salmon, DAC Beachcroft, Dentons, DLA Piper, Gowling WLG, Mills & Reeve, Pinsent Masons, Eversheds Sutherland, PwC and TLT.
Second tier members, to be used if top tier firms cannot accept a contract, include Bevan Brittan, Fieldfisher, Browne Jacobson, Hogan Lovells, Simmons & Simmons and Slaughter and May.
This latest roster is separate from the £50m rail panel announced in May 2016, with the firms on that panel due to be finalised in May this year.
The announcement followed the launch of an initiative in March last year to cut down the number of go-to-firms for external counsel by almost 40%.
Among the firms missing out on the new panels are Berwin Leighton Paisner, Blake Morgan, Bristows, Foot Anstey, Herbert Smith Freehills, Shoosmiths and Weightmans.