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Council to appoint two law firms to cover “unusually large volume” of childcare cases

Derby City Council has issued a voluntary ex ante transparency notice on its intention to hire two law firms to provide overflow cover for childcare legal cases.

The council said that “an unusually large volume of cases has occurred” and that in order to meet requirements, support was required to provide the capacity to deal with these cases.

Derby is proposing to appoint Dodds Solicitors of Leicester and Straw and Pearce of Loughborough. It will observe a ten-day standstill period.

It justified the award of a contract without prior publication of a call for competition in the Official Journal of the European Union on the basis that the procurement falls outside the scope of application of the directive.

By way of explanation the city council said:

  1. The firms had the requisite experience and specialist knowledge to represent a local authority in this area of law. In particular having recent experience of representing local authorities in this field.
  2. They had the capacity to pick up urgent work and carry several of the council's cases thereby providing some consistency in the advice being given to its client department.
  3. They were located outside the city of Derby and therefore unlikely to use information gained by representing the council within one set of proceedings against it in future proceedings but still needed to be within easy traveling distance to Derby to avoid excessive time wasted on getting to court.
  4. They were prepared to charge the council at reasonable rates. The benchmark for this was the current legal aid rates which are the rates paid by the Legal Aid Agency to solicitors in private practice for undertaking care work.

The estimated value for the work is £150,000.

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