External Legal Contract and Virement of Funds
Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Authority is sought to enter into a Contract
for the provision of Legal Services to the Council.
A decision resolving whether or not to partly outsource the provision of Legal Services to the Council and if so, to whom.
The Executive Member for the Cabinet Office presented the report which set out the Council’s options in respect of the part provision of legal services to the Council. It concluded by recommending that Cabinet should resolve that authorisation be given to enter into a five year contract (subject to an appropriate break clause) for the part external provision of legal services to the Council and secondly, that authorisation should be given to vire funds within the Legal Services budget to finance this contract. The report also recommended that the contract should be entered into with Norfolk County Council’s Legal Services Department.
Members were informed that a great deal of the Council’s legal services had been outsourced to Steeles Solicitors. Steeles had provided an excellent service over the years but after carrying out various market tests it had been concluded that the service from the existing provider could not be guaranteed at the current hourly rate.
A Member asked what provision had been agreed for the Development Control Committee. In response, the Leader advised that the Council’s own in-house legal cover would be continued. The Chief Executive reassured Members that there was no hidden plan to eliminate the in-house legal team.
It was noted that there was a mechanism within the five year contract to review performance and that the specifications that had been agreed were watertight.
The Solicitor informed Members that a fourth recommendation should be added to allow Officers to continue to use Steeles as their service provider until such time that the contract was completed with Norfolk County Council.
The options available to Members were either to recruit and fill the existing establishment or to obtain external assistance with the provision of legal services to the Council, either through a contract with Steeles llp, or with Norfolk County Council.
The reasons for the recommendations were listed at part 4 of the report.
1) authority be granted to enter into a contract for a period of up to five years (subject to an appropriate break clause) with Norfolk County Council’s Legal Services Department for the part external provision of legal services to the Council;
2) authority be granted to vire funds within the Legal Services budget to finance such a contract;
3) an exception be made under Clause 1 of the Contracts Standing Order to enable the engagement of Norfolk County Council Legal Services to proceed; and
4) Officers be allowed to continue to use Steeles as their service provider until the contract with Norfolk County Council is completed.
Report author: Michael Horn
Publication date: 14/02/2008
Date of decision: 12/02/2008
Decided at meeting: 12/02/2008 - Cabinet
Effective from: 22/02/2008