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Network Rail to appoint four firms to new 'innovation-driven' legal panel

Network Rail is set to appoint four firms to a new legal roster in what it describes as a move to establish an "innovation-driven" group of advisers. The rail operator has invited law firms to apply for places on a five-year panel covering its next funding period, which runs from 2019 until 2024. Network Rail said it was moving away from its current panel of four full-service law firms and several other specialist firms, in an effort to create an "innovation-driven, business-aligned group of advisers". Following a tender process, three firms will be appointed for England and Wales, alongside one for Scotland. The four law firms will work alongside Network Rail’s 32-strong in-house legal team to support "corporate functions and devolved route businesses". The rail company expects applicant law firms to show “demonstrable expertise across the full range of legal disciplines”. Network Rail general counsel for route business Dan Kayne, who is leading the tender process, said: “The core aim of the tender event is to allow us, in partnership with our advisers, to deliver exceptional-quality legal advice using innovation to drive value.” The rail operator, whose legal team is led by group general counsel Stuart Kelly, owns and operates 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts, and thousands of signals and level crossings, as well as running 20 of the UK's largest stations. In February, Network Rail began a review of its £70m legal panel, covering external legal work including construction, dispute resolution and property. That roster was last reviewed in 2013 when Evershed Sutherland, Addleshaw Goddard, Dentons, Bond Dickinson and Maclay Murray & Spens were all appointed. That review, which is also being led by Kayne, will see firms appointed for five years. Legal Week revealed yesterday (11 July) that Eversheds was paid almost £500,000 for its work for Network Rail in the wake of the collapse of construction giant Carillion. The firm was brought in to advise on the transfer of Carillion contracts to Amey Rail, a deal that saved more than 600 jobs following the company’s administration.