10 Aug 2022

Roster of firms earn places on Clarion's £40m housing panel

Pinsent Masons and Gowling WLG among 17 firms on new legal panel for UK’s largest housing association

Image courtesy of Clarion Housing Group

Seventeen law firms including Pinsent Masons and Gowling WLG have scored places on a new legal panel worth around £40m for Clarion Housing Group, the UK’s largest housing association. 

Clarion published a tender notice for the panel last summer and received 29 tenders, with the contract to last until 2031. The association was looking for firms to provide legal services across a range of areas including treasury and finance, employment and housing management, litigation and operations as well as conveyancing and project management. 

Along with Pinsents and Gowling, London firms to be named to the panel were DAC Beachcroft, Trowers & Hamlins, BDB Pitmans, Winckworth Sherwood, Penningtons Manches Cooper, Capsticks Solicitors, Devonshires Solicitors, Hugh James and Sharratts. 

Clarion has also enlisted six regional firms – Milton Keynes-based Shoosmiths, Birmingham firms Anthony Collins Solicitors and Clarke Willmott, Ipswich-based Birketts, Liverpool’s Weightmans and Leeds firm Walker Morris. 

“As the largest social landlord in the country and a leading property developer, we require a wide range of expert legal advice to meet the needs of our various business areas,” a Clarion spokesperson said. “With expenditure in the region of £5m per annum, we need to make sure that we receive high quality advice at competitive rates, enabling us to provide the best possible service and support to our residents.

“We are required to follow the Public Contract Regulations that set out a clear process to ensure transparency and fairness to all bidders, with the tender process split into lots to meet the needs of individual teams across the Group.

“The result is a panel of law firms with a range of specialisms, and we have put in place agreed terms and conditions, confirmed pricing and robust contract management options to ensure we achieve great value for money. In addition, Environmental, Social and Governance are key themes for Clarion and we will be working with the successful bidders to deliver social value to our residents and reduce Clarion’s carbon footprint in relation to our suppliers and supply chains.”

Clarion owns and manages 125,000 homes in the UK that house around 350,000 people. The legal panel appointments follow a challenging time for the London-based association, with MyLondon reporting in May that the Housing Ombudsman was planning a wider investigation into Clarion after the group was hit with its second severe maladministration finding in the space of three weeks. 

The findings prompted Michael Gove, then Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to write to Clarion’s chief executive, Clare Miller, expressing his “disappointment” with the Ombudsman’s findings of “serious problems with leaks, damp, mould, pest control, communal areas, tenancy succession and complaint handling” in Clarion housing. 

“I expect you to take every step necessary to address the issues raised, including adhering to the orders and recommendations of the Ombudsman”, he added. “No-one should have to live in a home with these conditions – and it should not take years to put them right.”

In response, Miller said: “We received a letter in May from the then Secretary of State, Michael Gove, relating to an ombudsman ruling where we failed to provide the service our residents have a right to expect.

“As chief executive of Clarion Housing Group, I will never shirk our responsibility to provide and maintain good quality homes.

“We have not got every decision right as an organisation, but we are making good progress and published a detailed update on the actions we have taken to significantly improve our service.

“There is no quick fix to the housing crisis and the UK has some of the oldest housing stock in the world. As a charitable organisation, we will continue do all we can to meet this challenge and we hope the government will work with us on our common goals.”

 

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