Legal Business Blogs

In-house: BP starts panel review under new general counsel

BP has commenced a review of its panel of legal advisers, marking the oil giant’s first revamp since 2014. The decision to renovate the legal panel comes after the promotion of Eric Nitcher to general counsel (GC) in January this year.

Nitcher, who previously acted as GC of BP America, replaced former GC Rupert Bondy who left to join FTSE 100 company Reckitt Benckiser.

BP’s current roster of legal advisers comprises Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, Norton Rose Fulbright, CMS Cameron McKenna, Ashurst, Simmons & Simmons, Pinsent Masons, Olswang and Addleshaw Goddard. This roster is due to expire in July 2017.

In May 2016, it was revealed BP will require external advisers to pitch for instructions worth over $1m in legal fees. The decision, an attempt to slash BP’s legal fees, means that firms must pitch against each other to secure work.

Former GC Bondy favoured alternative tender methods, selecting the current line-up of firms by holding a reverse auction during 2014’s panel review. Fieldfisher was the only firm to lose out after 2014’s review.

Rival oil major Shell also ran a reverse auction for its legal panel review in 2016, in addition to implementing a new rule that all legal matters must be priced using alternative fee arrangements (AFA) in December.

Other ongoing panel reviews include Sainsbury’s, which launched a review earlier this year to form a roster which will also cover its recent Home Retail Group acquisition. In addition, firms are gearing up to pitch for Lloyds’ commercial banking panel, which is due to start shortly and is expected to include about 80 – 100 firms.

BP declined to comment.