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NW consortium to extend solicitors panels, but let barristers framework lapse

The North West Legal Consortium has decided to extend its framework agreement for the provision of solicitors services for a further two years, but will let the one for barristers expire next year.

The decision, which followed “careful consideration and consultation with member authorities”, means the arrangements for solicitors will now expire on 31 March 2016.

The framework agreement for the provision of barristers services will meanwhile expire on 31 March 2014. 

In its place the consortium will establish a database of barristers’ rates with a view to securing costs efficiencies on an on-going basis.

On its website, the NWLC said: “The database would be open to new chambers to join during its period of operation and there would be an expectation of chambers adjusting published rates to influence provider choice.”

It added that the database would be accessible via the consortium’s website so that competition and commissioning could proceed as currently.

The NWLC said work would begin on compiling the barristers database in time for ‘go-live’ on 1 April next year.

In March 2010, the consortium appointed 31 law firms across 11 panels dealing with the full range of local government work.

Four practices – Beachcroft (now DAC Beachcroft), DLA Piper, Pannone and Weightmans – were given partner status. This meant that in return for enhanced relationships with the local authorities, they would provide added benefits such as tailored training and mutual secondments.

The NWLC also appointed 26 chambers, spread across 14 panels.