BP pushes back panel review decision until end of 2017

BP is delaying the conclusion of its UK panel review until the end of the year, with the new line-up set to come into effect in early 2018.

The current panel, put together by former group general counsel Rupert Bondy, was due to expire on 1 July after a three-year term.

Bondy left the oil major late last year after eight years, to take up a new role as GC of consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser.

He was replaced by Eric Nitcher, who kicked off the current panel review in February. Partners on the panel suggested to Legal Week at that time that the roster could be reduced, as cost pressures drive more work in-house.

The existing line-up comprises Addleshaw Goddard, Simmons & Simmons and Ashurst, all of which were added to the panel when it was last reviewed in 2014, alongside Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, Norton Rose Fulbright, CMS Cameron McKenna, Pinsent Masons and Olswang. Fieldfisher was the only firm to lose its place during the last review.

A BP spokesperson said: “The review process for the UK law firm panel has been deferred to the second half of this year. We intend to confirm the composition of the new panel late this year, with the new panel coming into effect from 1 January 2018.”

Reasons for the delay are not known.

Nitcher previously served as special counsel and chief of staff to BP America’s chairman and president, and associate GC for BP’s US and Latin America businesses.

He also played a key role in the settlement of claims stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, advising on the settlement of both US government claims and private claims that BP faced following the disaster.

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