How to supply

Updated: 4 May 2020

How to manage scheme requests

Panel firms will be contacted by agencies as required.

Panel firms will provide an estimate or project outline, as requested. Alternative pricing arrangements may be requested and will be a matter for agreement between the agency and panel firm. The panel rules PDF, 608.69 KB govern whether competitive quotes must be obtained. The process is covered in clauses 6 to 8 of the deed PDF, 1035.76 KB. The firm will provide an estimate or project outline, as requested. Instructions should be provided using the legal services order form. DOCX, 38.8 KB.

Questions about engagements or instructions should be directed to the instructing officer or the agency contract manager.

Performance evaluation

The panel manager is developing arrangements for panel users to provide feedback on the performance of panel firms.

Panel firms are required to provide regular reports. These reports are set out in the service level agreement PDF, 175.45 KB which is annexure C to the deed.

Tools and templates

Under the NSW Government Procurement Framework, the panel rules govern the purchase of legal services from the panel. Transport for NSW executed the deed to establish the panel as a whole-of-government arrangement. Any agency eligible to purchase from a government contract may purchase from this panel. In this context, the deed establishes the panel within the Procurement Framework. That is, while the deed and service level agreement govern the legal relationship between agencies and panel firms, agencies are subject to the panel rules in accordance with the Procurement Framework established under the Public Works and Procurement Act 1912. Without setting any order of precedence, this is how the documents are related:

The documents have been uploaded separately for ease of access, rather than as a single pdf file.

Index of reports

Refer to Guidance Note 8.0 - Changes to Panel Firm Reporting:

  1. Law firm matter invoices XLSX, 153.25 KB - Updated 1 July 2019 - monthly
  2. Request for addition of nominated personnel DOCX, 33.84 KB - as required
  3. Agency billing summary XLSX, 2808.42 KB - Updated 1 July 2019 - quarterly
  4. Counsel briefed XLSX, 2803.8 KB - Updated 1 July 2019 - quarterly
  5. Value adds XLSX, 51.57 KB - Updated 1 July 2019 - quarterly
  6. Assurance of compliance DOCX, 32.64 KB - annually
  7. Continuous improvement initiatives DOCX, 28.93 KB - annually
  8. Pro bono services  XLSX, 17.24 KB - annually
  9. Legal Advice Database Report (transport portfolio only) XLSX, 17.93 KB - quarterly

Index of guidance notes

FAQs for suppliers

Who can use the panel?

All agencies eligible to purchase from NSW Government contracts are able to purchase legal services from the panel.

Agencies are responsible for managing the transition of existing matters to the panel. The agency contract manager for each agency will manage this.

Are there rules for using the panel?

Yes, the panel rules PDF, 608.69 KB incorporating the off-panel engagements guideline PDF, 52.63 KB and the conflict management guideline PDF, 45.19 KB apply to agencies using the panel but it is helpful for panel firms to understand them too.

The panel rules explain how to purchase legal services from the panel, including what legal services are covered, thresholds for obtaining estimates (competitive quotes) and engaging firms outside the panel arrangements.

Do agencies have to use the panel?

Agencies are strongly encouraged to buy legal services from the panel . The off-panel engagements guideline PDF, 52.63 KB explains when agencies can use law firms outside the panel arrangements.

Will existing matters with agencies be transferred to the panel?

Individual agencies will decide whether existing matters will transition to the new panel. Please contact the instructing officer or relevant agency contract manager to discuss what will happen.

What is off-panel work?

Any work in an area of law for which a firm is not appointed to the panel is off-panel work. However, the off-panel engagements guideline PDF, 52.63 KB explains that there are some exceptions, for example where work in an "off-panel" area of law is incidental to another piece of work.

Who manages the panel?

Transport for NSW is the panel manager.  Transport for NSW managed the procurement process which was overseen by a steering committee comprised of the general counsels of each cluster central agency.

Individual agencies are responsible for managing law firm engagements and panel firms should contact the relevant agency contract manager XLSX, 3613.08 KB in the first instance.

Transport for NSW will report on panel expenditure every 6 months to the Procurement Board. Agencies are required to report off-panel expenditure to the panel manager every six months for provision to the Procurement Board.

How are conflicts of interest managed?

Panel firms should contact the agency contract manager for any conflict of interest or probity issues - see clause 22 of the Deed  PDF, 1035.76 KB and the conflict management guideline PDF, 45.19 KB.

How are responsibilities for the panel shared?

The service level agreement PDF, 175.45 KB (annexure C to the Deed) sets out the roles and responsibilities for managing the panel. See section 4 of the SLA.

Further questions raised at the panel firm induction held August 2016

Who do agencies contact about new instructions to a panel law firm – panel relationship partner or cluster relationship partner?

  • Agencies should contact the cluster relationship partner when briefing new instructions.

Should Panel Firms appointed to sub panel 3 (b) expect to continue to receive requests for fixed pricing for property matters?

  • Yes.  Panel firms were asked to nominate fixed pricing arrangements in the detailed rates matrix and this is now available to panel users through the virtual data room.

Requests received from various NSW Government agencies to date for fixed fees for property matters have varied. Should we expect this to continue or might there be more uniformity in the categories we need to respond to?

  • The suggested starting point for discussions between an agency and a panel firm would be the arrangements offered as per the rates matrix for sub panel 3.

For NSW Health specifically: should we send monthly reports to local health district contacts directly or just the agency contract manager?

  • The default position is that both the agency contract manager and District/Health entity receive the monthly report – this can be altered via the Legal services order at the time of engagement.

Do we send all our invoices to the agency contract managers or the cluster general counsels by email or by post? With or without the reports? Alternatively to the contact who instructed us via the Legal services order?

  • The legal services order should identify how invoices are to be issued.  Panel firms should confirm arrangements with agency contract managers.

We believe that it may not be appropriate for the NSW Government to get a discount or refund for fees paid by another party (as was the case of banks getting volume discounts which included in the calculations legal fees for mortgagee sales of property, where the legal fees were ultimately paid by the borrower), unless the government seeks to provide a pro rata refund to each third party who paid the government’s costs.  There may also be a reputation risk.  Please advise whether such fees should be excluded from the volume discount calculations.  A simple example would be commercial property leases where a tenant pays the government's/landlord's legal costs.

  • Agreed. Services for which a tenant pays the government’s costs will not be included in calculating the threshold for a volume discount. However, once the volume discount threshold is reached, a tenant will only be asked to pay the costs at the discounted rates.

When do I seek approval for nominated personnel?

  • Any personnel proposed to act for the NSW Government in the following categories must be nominated:
  1. partner
  2. special counsel
  3. senior associate
  • Personnel not approved when the agreement commenced must be approved before undertaking panel work. The nominated personnel form available on ProcurePoint (and used during the RFP) must be submitted to the panel manager, for approval by the executive contract manager. Approval will not be retrospective unless there are exceptional circumstances; Clients are not obliged to pay for work undertaken by personnel who have not been approved (clause 11.1(b)).
  • Invoices including time worked by personnel who have not been approved will not be certified for payment.
  • Invoices from panel firms must include a declaration from the issuing partner that all nominated personnel in the categories of partner, senior associate and special counsel who have billed on the matter have been approved.

Are law firms able to provide services and bill for resource levels other than those specified in the reports?

  • No, personnel working on matters must be in one of the following eight categories:
  1. partner
  2. senior associate
  3. special counsel
  4. lawyer Y4-6
  5. lawyer Y1-3
  6. graduate
  7. paralegal
  8. licensed conveyancer
  • The resource grade for consultants must be identified when they are put forward as nominated personnel.

Should approval for nominated personnel in the categories of partner, special counsel or senior associate working across multiple sub panels and areas of law be sought at the one time?

  • Yes.  An example of this may be a “tax” partner who works across both the major transactions and commercial sub-panels.

How do panel law firms raise conflicts of interest?

  • Panel law firms will need to contact the agency contract managers listed on the ProcurePoint website.
  • The Conflict management guideline for legal and commercial conflicts – panel rules schedule 4 confirms under ‘Exclusions’ (page 2) that panel firms for area of law 3(d) Statutory land acquisition processes may not act against NSW Government in any compulsory acquisition matter and must not be cleared to act against NSW Government

If a panel firm is not a panel firm for area of law 3(d) is instructed to act against NSW Government in a compulsory acquisition matter, does that panel firm need to clear the conflict in accordance with the Conflict management guideline?

  • Yes

Where should panel firms send CLE invitations for distribution to agencies within each cluster?

  • CLE invitations (with no cost) can be sent to NSWLSC@justice.nsw.gov.au.  These invitations will be circulated to in-house government lawyers across agencies/cluster.
  • CLE invitations (with cost) will not be endorsed or distributed to in-house government lawyers across agencies.
  • Agency/cluster specific CLEs:  Panel firms are encouraged to liaise directly with each agency contract manager.
  • Publications/bulletins/newsletters etc can be sent to agency contract managers for them to distribute as appropriate.

We would welcome further guidance on how matters may be categorised for panel purposes, in terms of size and complexity, for commercial and property transactions. For example, there may a large property development project which involves a number of routine property transactions eg. standard leases within the project.  In such a case, please advise whether the intention is that the entire project (including routine aspects of it) must fall under the 'complex property transactions' sub panel, or if there is scope for routine parts of a wider project to fall within the 'routine/standard property transactions' sub panel. We consider that a flexible approach may help the NSW Government maximise cost savings.  We understand that this may need to be on a case by case basis.

This will be up to the agency and panel firm to resolve and, in general, will be guided by the material in the services brief issued as part of the RFP and now extracted separately on ProcurePoint. While this cannot cover every situation it is detailed enough to provide quite clear guidance about where a matter should fall.

One factor will be delivery requirements. For example, the agency may be comfortable that all services related to a project are covered within a major transactions area of law or that agency may decide it is appropriate to split the services up to ensure appropriate skills and expertise are available – more than one firm might be engaged in that case.

Ultimately, it is up to the agency to ensure it engages the appropriate lawyers for the job and to ensure it obtains value for money.

Under what circumstances will agencies be required to open tender for major transactions (i.e. invite all sub panel 1 firms to respond). Will any RFPs be sent to a selection of firms rather than all sub panel 1 firms? This question applies equally to the areas of law within sub panel 1.

  • Under the procurement framework it is open to an agency to undertake a competitive procurement process for any work. However, the thresholds where a competitive process becomes mandatory, requiring at least 3 firms to tender, are:

$150,000 for sub panel 2 - sub panel 6

$400,000 for sub panel 1

What will be the interaction between the NSW Government legal services panel and the NSW Treasury corporate and transaction advisory (legal) panel? Will NSW Treasury have discretion to choose the panel under which they wish to procure legal services for a specific transaction?

  • As indicated in the RFP, Treasury has an existing panel in place. Treasury has indicated it intends to use its existing panel, rather than the government panel.

How do the Panel documents fit together

Under the NSW Government Procurement Framework, the panel rules govern the purchase of legal services. Transport for NSW executed the Deed to establish the panel as a whole-of-government arrangement. Any agency eligible to purchase from a government contract may purchase from this panel. In this context, the Deed establishes the panel within the Procurement Framework. That is, while the Deed and Service level agreement govern the legal relationship between agencies and panel firms, agencies are subject to the panel rules in accordance with the Procurement Framework established under the Public Works and Procurement Act 1912. Without setting any order of precedence, this is how the documents are related:

The documents have been uploaded separately for ease of access, rather than as a single pdf file.