Despite a drastic reduction in firms for its general advice panel, the government has indicated it will not reduce the amount of firms on its roster as it tenders for a new legal panel for finance work.
As reported by Legal Business in March, the Crown Commercial Service unveiled an 18-firm general legal advice panel spread across two tiers. The number of firms included was slashed from more than 40.
At the same time, the contracts for its finance and regulation, and major or complex projects panels were both extended for a year until 31 January 2018.
The latest roster will replace the finance and regulation panel, a new £90m framework named the ‘finance and highly complex transactions panel’. The contract lasts two years, with the option to extend for two 12 month periods.
Procurement documents state that the anticipated number of providers to be appointed is nine, the same number as the previous panel.
Firms currently on the finance panel include Magic Circle firms Allen & Overy and Slaughter and May, in addition to Addleshaw Goddard, Burges Salmon, Mills & Reeve, Nabarro, Pinsent Masons, Simmons & Simmons and Squire Patton Boggs. Firms currently on other CCS panels, such as the general legal advice panel, are not restricted from applying for new frameworks.
There are 24 firms currently on the major or complex projects panel, including Ashurst, Bircham Dyson Bell, Capsticks, Dentons, DLA Piper, Hempsons, TLT and Trowers & Hamlins. This is expected to be reviewed next year.
In March 2016, the government announced an initiative to cut down the number of go-to-firms it uses for external counsel by almost 40%. The reductions formed part of a bid to ramp up legal service delivery across the public sector.
A CCS spokesperson said: ‘This new panel is designed to provide expert external legal services that will deliver significant savings to the taxpayer across the public sector. We are determined to make real improvements to citizen’s lives so that they feel government is at their service.’