In IT and outsourcing, specialising in large, complex public sector projects particularly those involving technology investment, strategic partnering and support services outsourcing.
Tel: +44 (0)870 733 0618
Best brains in ...
Over the last five years, I've been involved in a range of public sector projects, ranging from private finance initiatives (PFIs), through to the National Health Service (NHS), to local authority IT and strategic partnering. This has given me a really good understanding of public sector contracting models, including the latest Office of Government Commerce (OGC) Model ICT Contract.
Highlight of your career so far?
Leading the team which advised an NHS Trust on its arrangements with a South African private healthcare provider as part of the recent Independent Sector Treatment Centre programme in the UK. The range of issues involved, from vires, via compliance with statutory financial requirements to detailed liability issues, together with the challenging timescales and the political context made this a very rewarding deal. We were trying to complete it in the run-up to the last general election, particularly when we got to visit the new facility and saw patients actually being treated.
Most challenging job you've ever done?
Leading the multi-disciplinary team which completed an £80 million PFI IT project for the London Borough of Croydon. I worked on this pretty much exclusively for nearly 18 months, negotiating the whole suite of contractual documentation with two very different bidders, before the Council selected Capgemini as its preferred supplier. Although I had worked on large IT projects before, I had not previously led a PFI project. We had to become experts in the standard form PFI contract - since Partnerships UK had to approve any deviation from the standard terms. But at the same time, we had to be creative, as the standard form of contract didn't fit the structure of IT projects.
We finally reached financial close on the project three weeks before the Government announced that PFI funding was inappropriate for IT projects as they needed to be structured in a different way. Fortunately, we were able to laugh by then!
What about outside the UK?
Although much of the work I do focuses on the UK public sector, most of the suppliers I work with are international in nature so I have to have a good understanding of, for example, the US Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures requirements.
What's your definition of going the extra mile?
While working on a project which required my presence in all-day meetings south of London for the entire week, I was also volunteering to help a local authority client in the Midlands with presentations on two evenings that week. I still don't know how I managed to distinguish between the projects and keep awake!
Best example of a creative legal solution?
I was part of the team which advised Solihull MBC on its Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project, one of the first BSF schemes to complete. The biggest challenge on this project was that the Solihull scheme did not follow the structure originally envisaged by Partnerships for Schools; instead the Council contracted separately for the design and build of the schools and the provision of the ICT equipment and - to make matters even more interesting - wanted to contract with the ICT contractor first, even though the schools were not even designed at that stage!
We worked with our client, the ICT contractor, the building contractor and Partnerships for Schools to develop a contractual framework which enabled the Council to structure the project in the way it wanted. But we also reduced the risk to the Council by requiring the ICT and building contractors to sort out claims and disputes directly between themselves via interface arrangements, rather than seeking to claim against the Council all the time.
What's been written or said about you that you're most proud of?
'A tough but fair negotiator.'