In October 2013 Staffordshire County Council issued an OJEU notice on behalf of themselves and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) procuring (by way of competitive dialogue) a joint venture partner for a strategic partnership to manage the property estates for both organisations.

The aspiration was that a private sector partner would bring crucial expertise to the Council and the OPCC, to develop their property estates and, where more appropriate, to dispose of some of their assets. The Council and the OPCC, therefore, sought a partner with the expertise to advise the most advantageous treatment on a case by case basis and to be the development partner of choice where development or construction was indicated. 

What was our role?

We supported the Council’s in-house legal and procurement teams on the dialogue process and the drafting and negotiating of the suite of key legal documents the joint venture would necessitate. 

The suite of legal documents was bespoke and complex, complicated by the need to ensure both the Council and the OPCC were compliant with their governing legal framework, and legal advice provided to both on that framework.  The legal documents include the corporate structure (a company limited by shares), the partnering governance framework, a collaboration agreement between the parties, and a suite of construction and development documents sitting underneath a framework agreement and services agreement. 

Given the wide-ranging nature of the documents that need to be prepared the Council sought our support.  We have also supported the Council in its procurement process by attending competitive dialogue sessions and advising on amendments to be made to those documents in response to bidders’ queries, as well as more general procurement support.

How did we add value?

We worked at a pace under an urgent need from the Council for external legal support to supplement the in-house teams. Because we have worked alongside the in-house teams, rather than in isolation, we have managed to ensure the best use of external resources to encourage better value for money and the development of staff in-house. The Council instructed us mid-way through the procurement process for both capacity and capability reasons, and we have been able to throw ourselves in at the deep end. We have given support to junior colleagues within the Council’s legal team and have worked effectively as a team with the Council, which reflects the collaborative approach we have with them - to essentially just get “stuck in” and get the work done on an urgent basis and at pace.

It is not easy to be involved in a complex project which is already underway, the immediate response and assistance was what we needed and were provided.
Jean Evans, Staffordshire County Council.