Legal Business Blogs

In-house: Crown Estate to review energy and commercial real estate panels

The Crown Estate is to launch a review of its external legal adviser panel following the departure of general counsel (GC) Vivienne King who has been replaced by former deputy Rob Booth (pictured).

New GC Booth is responsible for coordinating the external legal adviser panel and managing the in-house legal team.

During this financial year he will tender mandates for Crown Estate’s offshore energy, minerals and infrastructure work and for commercial real estate work within its central London portfolio, which includes 8m sq ft of prime West End office and retail space in Regent Street and St James’s.

The real estate tender process will not commence until later in the year, when a small number selected firms will be invited to pitch. The current panel comprises Hogan Lovells, King & Wood Mallesons, Norton Rose Fulbright, Burges Salmon, Bond Dickinson, Forsters and Gowling WLG.

The Crown Estate, which has £13bn of assets under management, operates a structured panel for significant legal work and aims to develop long term relationships with the firms it uses. On a rolling basis, panel mandates are retendered typically every five years.

Booth succeeded high-profile director of business operations and general counsel Vivienne King to the role in January following a wider restructure of the business last year. King has since been appointed as chief executive of property management business, Soho Housing.

Featured in Legal Business‘ 2016 edition of the GC Power List, Booth has been instrumental in driving forward a series of initiatives to strengthen relationships with external legal advisers on the panel, including targeted reward.

The last high-profile review undertaken by the sovereign property portfolio took place in 2014 when it halved its rural and coastal portfolio and Windsor Estate legal panel from four to two, a tender which saw Burges Salmon and Bond Dickinson re-appointed and Clarke Willmott and Thomas Eggar lose out.

For more on The Crown Estate’s legal team, see Transport, Infrastructure and Real Estate in the 2016 GC Power List