Public sector issues almost 300 contracts for legal services in 2018

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The public sector often requires the advice of legal experts in its provision of public services. Since 2015 the total lifetime value of contracts issued by the wider public sector stands at around half a billion pounds. Given that legal expertise is indispensable for so many parts of the public sector, we at Tussell we decided to take a close look at government's procurement of legal services in 2018, identifying the overall size of the market, top suppliers, most active buyers and prospecting leads for 2019.

Key findings:
  • In 2018 the wider public issued 297 contracts for legal services with a combined value of £107m.

  • The largest single contract came from the London & Quadrant Housing Association. They awarded £16.5m to multiple suppliers for legal services covering all aspects of their business.

  • Although the total number of contracts issued was up by 49%, the value of contracts was 48% down on the bumper £207m awarded in 2017.

  • The top 10 suppliers of legal services won just over half of all the value issued by the wider public sector in 2018. However suppliers from outside the top 10 were awarded 77% of all of the contracts issued, a sign that there were opportunities available amongst the lower-value contracts for less established firms.
Legal Bar chartThe total value of legal services procured by the public sector dipped substantially last year compared to the year before. However the large amount awarded in 2017 seems to be an anomaly. In most years since 2015, the total value of contracts for legal services hovered around £100m. 

Aside from London and Quadrant Housing Association - which issued the biggest contract for legal services during this period - the largest buyers tended to be Central Government departments. The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham was the only Local Authority to make the top 5, having issued a £7.3m contract for the provision of free legal advice and support to its residents.

Legal services bar 2

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