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With an external legal spend in excess of $1bn since 2010, BP launches panel review

Energy giant BP, which has paid around $1bn in external legal fees in relation to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, has announced a review of its UK law firm adviser line-up.

Law firms have been asked to tender for a place on the FTSE 100 company’s new roster, pending the expiry in May of a three-year panel put in place in 2011. The review will be completed towards the middle of 2014.

The current panel includes Magic Circle firms Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, as well as Norton Rose Fulbright, Olswang, Herbert Smith Freehills, CMS Cameron McKenna and Scottish firm McGrigors.

The review is being led by high-profile group general counsel Rupert Bondy (pictured), who also oversaw the 2011 review.

Linklaters is a longstanding adviser to BP, with corporate partner Stephen Griffin having advised on BP’s $27bn sale of a 50% share in TNK-BP to Rosneft, the major Russian integrated oil and gas company, as well as the dual-track IPO and $9bn private sale process of its chemicals business Innovene.

At Freshfields, meanwhile, ex-corporate head Mark Rawlinson prepared BP’s defence against a potential bid in the wake of the oil disaster.

The panel review follows the announcement in February that a further $150m of external legal costs can be expected in relation to the spill.