Shared Legal Services Alternative Business Structure Proposal

Currently waiting for a response from Westminster City Council, they must respond promptly and normally no later than (details).

Dear Westminster City Council,

Background

On 30 October your Cabinet received a report entitled "Shared Legal Services Alternative Business Structure Proposal". The report recommends the award by the Council of a 5 year contract for the provision of legal services, probably worth in excess of £10 million (the report does not give a figure), to a private limited company called LGSS Law Ltd. The Council will according to the report take shares of an unspecified value in the company, the Council's legal staff will be transferred to the company, and the Shared Legal Services Director of Law will become the Managing Director of the company.

The report to Cabinet is unusual, because

(a) it does not detail any of the terms of the proposed contract (except that it is to be for 5 years, and the Council will be required to route all its legal work through the company)
(b) it proposes that the contract be awarded without any tendering exercise, without any market testing or assessment of value for money, and without any business case (the report does describe itself as a business case, but it does not contain the information required in a business case by The Local Government (Best Value Authorities) (Power to Trade) (England) Order 2009, even though the purpose of the proposal is said to be to enable trading in legal services)
(c) it does not detail the proposed governance arrangements, or set out the rights (if any) the Council will be entitled to exercise as shareholder in the company. There is no mention of a Shareholder Agreement
(d) it does not contain advice about the legal implications of the proposal; and
(e) it does not contain any advice about the financial implications of the proposal from the City Treasurer

The latest published accounts for LGSS Law Ltd set out an aspiration to review pay and rewards for some LGSS staff, and to increase rewards for staff with particular specialisms. It is not clear from the report whether the Council will have any rights as shareholder to control, or influence, the amounts paid to transferring staff, in particular the Director of Law and other senior staff reporting to him.

The report says that the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, one of the Councils currently "sharing" Shared Legal Services, does not wish to participate in the proposal.

My interest is in the steps taken by the Council, and by officers in Shared Legal Services, to ensure the multiple conflicts of interest inherent in a case like this are clearly recognised and addressed. I am advised that under Section 117 of the Local Government Act 1972 officers employed by the Council must make a formal written disclosure to the Council in any case where they have a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in a contract which the Council proposes to enter into, and that it is a criminal offence not to do so.

Requests for information

1. The identity of any officer or officers who attended the Cabinet meeting on 30 October to provide legal advice to the Cabinet.
2. The identity of the employer of the officer(s) identified under 1 above.
3. The identity of the employer of the Shared Services Director of Law.
4. If the answer to 3 is Westminster City Council, a copy of the written disclosure made by the Director under Section 117.
5. A copy of the written disclosure(s) under Section 117 made by any solicitor or barrister employed by Westminster and reporting directly to the Director.
6. The date the written disclosures referred to in 4 and 5 were made.
7. A copy of any contract, protocol, guidance or other document containing information about how the Shared Legal Service will deal with cases where there is a potential conflict of interest between one Council sharing the service and another
8. A copy of any contract, protocol, guidance or other document containing information about how the Shared Legal Service will deal with cases where there is a potential conflict of interest between one Council and an employee or employees of the service.

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

Rosalie Nielson

Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 6423033

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Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 6423033

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Dear Ms Nelson
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
 
Thank you for your request for information that was received on 6 November
2017.
 
Request summary
Background
On 30 October your Cabinet received a report entitled "Shared Legal
Services Alternative Business Structure Proposal". The report recommends
the award by the Council of a 5 year contract for the provision of legal
services, probably worth in excess of £10 million (the report does not
give a figure), to a private limited company called LGSS Law Ltd. The
Council will according to the report take shares of an unspecified value
in the company, the Council's legal staff will be transferred to the
company, and the Shared Legal Services Director of Law will become the
Managing Director of the company.

[content removed - see original request for full background]

Requests for information
1. The identity of any officer or officers who attended the Cabinet
meeting on 30 October to provide legal advice to the Cabinet.
2. The identity of the employer of the officer(s) identified under 1
above.
3. The identity of the employer of the Shared Services Director of Law.
4. If the answer to 3 is Westminster City Council, a copy of the written
disclosure made by the Director under Section 117.
5. A copy of the written disclosure(s) under Section 117 made by any
solicitor or barrister employed by Westminster and reporting directly to
the Director.
6. The date the written disclosures referred to in 4 and 5 were made.
7. A copy of any contract, protocol, guidance or other document containing
information about how the Shared Legal Service will deal with cases where
there is a potential conflict of interest between between one Council
sharing the service and another
8. A copy of any contract, protocol, guidance or other document containing
information about how the Shared Legal Service will deal with cases where
there is a potential conflict of interest between one Council and an
employee or employees of the service
 
We are dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act
2000and we aim to send a response by 4 December 2017.
 
The Freedom of Information Act 2000may restrict the release of some or all
of the information you have requested. We will carry out an assessment and
if any exemptionsapply to some or all of the information then we might not
provide that information to you. We will inform you if this is the case
and advise you of your rights to request an internal review and to
complain to the Information Commissioner's Office.
 
We will also advise you if we cannot provide you with the information
requested for any other reason together with the reason(s) why and details
of how you may appeal (if appropriate).
 
Yours sincerely
 
Information Management Team
Westminster City Council
Information Services
Tel: 0207 641 3921
Email: [1][Westminster City Council request email]
Web: [2]www.westminster.gov.uk
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

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