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Cheers: Heineken UK gifts DLA Piper with principal legal adviser role

After much speculation and a lengthy review, the UK arm of global beer and cider producer Heineken has announced the appointment of DLA Piper as its principal legal adviser for a major proportion of work, a move which the company has made in a bid to cut down on external legal spend.

The three year appointment will see DLA acting for Heineken across a broad range of legal work in the UK, including property, litigation, IP, corporate and employment law. The relationship will be managed by Edinburgh-based IP and technology partner John McKinlay and litigation and regulatory partner Hazel Moffat.

Although the firm will carry out the large majority of the work itself, at the request of Heineken, UK licensing work will continue to be carried out by regional firm Flint Bishop and associated recoveries work will continue to be carried out by Bristol-headquartered TLT. Both services provided by the firms will be managed by DLA Piper.

Legal Business revealed in early April that Heineken UK was actively considering going down the one-stop-shop route for the bulk of its legal work, with its UK head of legal Graeme Colquhoun explaining that the mandate would most likely be awarded to a firm with which the brewer already had a relationship with.

With no formal panel in place and much of the procurement and commercial work kept in-house, the company had nonetheless forged key relationships with firms including DLA, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Allen & Overy, Shepherd and Wedderburn, TLT, Morton Fraser, Irwin Mitchell, Osborne Clarke, CMS Cameron McKenna and Pinsent Masons, which were also speculated to be in line for the windfall instruction.

Colquhoun previously said: ‘Our business is very fragmented and distributed – there’s lots of touch points between the business and external firms. Cost is a huge issue and so is control. From Edinburgh it’s quite hard to get a grip on that other than through our system where we can see how much money is being paid but we can’t stop it before it happens. We think we might have better control through having a sole supplier – a one-stop-shop.’

On the appointment of DLA, Colquhoun said: ‘While we have historically worked with a significant number of strong law firms in a wide variety of areas, we believe the time is right to consolidate the provision of these services in one key partner and that DLA Piper demonstrated an excellent cultural fit and the business focus we were looking for. As well as the financial and business efficiencies generated by having one key provider, we look forward to a step-change in the quality of management information which we receive and believe that this will help us to become the undisputed No 1 cider and beer maker in the UK.’