The Department of Finance, in conjunction with the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) are in the process of developing a new Legal Services Panel which will replace an existing Legal services multi use list. To aid this development, the departments are undertaking industry consultation through a series of industry briefs to be held this week and the release of a draft head contract for comment. The industry information sessions aim to provide a heads up on the structure of the new panel arrangement as well as the upcoming procurement process. These sessions are being held in Melbourne on Tuesday 4 September 2018, in Sydney on Wednesday 5 September 2018 and in Canberra on Friday 7 September 2018. Booking infomation can be found here.
As with many panels, the managing department (in this case the AGD) allows access to various agencies to place orders under the head agreement. This makes good use of a panel arrangement, reducing tendering costs on government and increasing the quantity of work to panelists. This legal services panel is seeking expertise in the following fields of law:
(a) Workplace, Industrial Relations, Compensation and Personal Injury;
(b) Public law;
(c) Corporate and commercial;
(d) Property and environment; and
(e) Specialist litigation.
The draft head agreement has been released this week for industry consideration and comments must be submitted by 10 Sep 18. This is a valuable exercise for industry as the range of comments will shape the final outcome in terms of the contract conditions and panel operation. As with most panel agreements, a Performance Management Framework is proposed and panelists will be assesed against anticipated services levels. However, the following are less common features in a panel head agreement and are worthy of note:
Pro Bono Work: all legal service providers on the panel will be expected to sign up to the National Pro Bono Target and use its best endeavours to meet or exceed the National Target for Pro Bono Work per lawyer per year.
Panel Fee: Legal service providers will be required to pay a Panel Fee to AGD. This will be a percentage between 0.4% and 1% of the total fees paid by an agency for work undertaken.
Value Added Services: At the time of tender, additional value adding services may be proposed by the tenderer, however under the draft head agreement, a list of services is provided and this includes up to 4 hours of training services each year in relation to government law foundational legal training.
The panel is intended to run for a period of 3 years with the possibility of a further two year extension. As mentioned, this head agreement is currently out for indusrty comment, so the final product may vary based on feed back received.