The EM LawShare consortium has launched a procurement exercise for a framework agreement for external counsel's services worth an estimated £18m over four years.
The move by the largest legal services consortium in the country comes just weeks after the London Boroughs Legal Alliance and Lambeth and Southwark Councils announced the chambers selected for their respective panels.
In a potentially significant development the tender notice for the EM LawShare procurement says it envisages only five sets being chosen. This contrasts with the LBLA and Lambeth/Southwark arrangements, which both saw 31 chambers appointed.
As such, the arrangements mirror to an extent EM LawShare’s law firm panel which was first launched in 2006. That panel has five firms: Anthony Collins; Browne Jacobson; DLA Piper; Freeth Cartwright; and Weightmans.
EM LawShare’s 50-plus members include county councils such as Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire. The group also includes fire and rescue authorities, police authorities, two NHS trusts and a national park authority.
The procurement of external counsel is being run on EM Lawshare’s behalf by Leicester City Council.
The agreement will cover both legal advice and assistance and representation in court.
The scope of services required in each lot is to include: advocacy before court and tribunals; legal advice and assistance in connection with actual or contemplated legal proceedings (including the settling of pleadings); legal advice generally; and other tasks normally provided by barristers.
The seven lots are:
- Property & Commercial: covering planning, property & contracts, commercial, information management, procurement, intellectual property, media, highways, compulsory purchase;
- Housing: housing and welfare services, and anti-social behaviour;
- Children & Social Services: childcare, adoption, fostering and other interventions, social services, mental health, public health, education and school change. This lot is estimated to be worth £9m alone;
- Employment: covering employment, employers, TUPE, and pensions;
- Administrative law: including governance, standards, and elections;
- Regulatory: covering the full range of enforcement, civil and criminal prosecutions undertaken by or on behalf of or against the employing authority;
- Civil litigation: this relates to the full range of general civil litigation for or on behalf of or against the employing authority.
Each lot is to include consequential areas of law such as public law, human rights and equalities.
Between five and 20 chambers will be invited to tender or participate.
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