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Southwark to hold soft market testing exercise for £18-25m legal services panel

The London Borough of Southwark is inviting legal services providers to participate in a soft market testing exercise as it prepares to procure a four-year, £18-25m solicitors’ panel.

The council said it expected that the framework contracts would be awarded in July 2018.

The framework will be made available to other interested London local authorities, their wholly owned companies, London fire services and London clinical commissioning groups.

Southwark’s spend is estimated at £9m for the four-year period. This will include a contingency for increases in legal spend particularly in view of the change to the council’s standard price quality ratio.

The council said the soft market testing exercise would assess potential interest in this framework from legal firms, and also seek their views to help inform both procurement documentation and the commissioning process.

Its in-house legal services team is currently in the process of considering what core legal services will be carried out in-house and what needed to be put out to external firms.

The panel areas are to be divided into three lots:

  1. Complex matters (quality/price split of 60:40): regeneration and property; planning advice; commercial contracts and procurement; governance and public law; commercial litigation.
  2. General matters (quality/price split of 50:50): health and social care; commercial contracts and procurement; general litigation; debt recovery; employment litigation.
  3. High volume predictable routine matters (quality/price split of 60:40): residential conveyancing.

The council said an important element of the proposed framework was the provision of good soft benefits, such as work placements for Southwark residents and students and young people in care, pro bono work, and legal surgeries and advice to community organisations.

In October 2016 Southwark procured a joint barristers framework with Lambeth.

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