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Contracts & Commercial Law

Both local authorities, from county councils to parish councils, and voluntary organisations undertake complex and/or high value commercial projects and transactions from time to time – and in some cases frequently. The transactions may be similar in many respects to those entered into by the private sector, indeed the other contracting parties may be private sector businesses, but there are often particular considerations, for example the rules relating to public procurement and state aid, which public and voluntary sector organisations may need to consider. Our commercial lawyers have detailed knowledge of the law relating to:

  • contracts;
  • public procurement;
  • state aid;
  • competition;
  • companies;
  • partnerships;
  • charities;
  • intellectual property; and
  • information and data protection;

as well as the skills needed to work with our clients in order to bring a project or transaction to a successful conclusion:

  • good team-working, organisational and negotiating skills;
  • attention to detail;
  • flexibility and good time-management; and
  • a creative approach to problem solving.

Major transactions

Examples of multimillion pound projects on which nplaw has worked over the last few years include acting for Norfolk County Council and its subsidiary undertakings on:

  • a new highways contract worth up to £480 million over 12 years for maintenance and construction work on Norfolk’s six thousand miles of country roads;
  • the France (Channel) England Programme 2014 – 2020: an EU crossborder programme aimed at funding high quality co-operation projects in the Channel border region (an area covering much of northern France and a large part of southern England stretching from Cornwall to the Wash) for which Norfolk County Council is the managing authority;
  • the establishment of Independence Matters CIC, a community interest company jointly-owned by its staff and Norfolk County Council which is the largest social enterprise of its kind in the UK, and the transfer to it of Norfolk County Council’s adult care services;
  • the government-funded Better Broadband for Norfolk project;
  • the National LGPS Framework project; and
  • the integration of health and social care services by means of a delegation agreement with Norfolk Community Health Care NHS Trust under section 75 of the National Health Services Act 2006.

Procurement, state aid and competition law

For nplaw’s commercial lawyers, procurement, state aid and competition law compliance are a pervasive issue which we are constantly aware of when giving advice, whether that advice relates to a wider project or to a specific matter such as a grant application. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has made it very clear that, “the rules can be complex and getting it wrong can mean recovery of state aid and suspension or withdrawal of aid schemes”. We have developed a good working relationship with central government officials in this area and frequently advise on the rules and how to guard against infringement. We have also successfully defended clients from challenges, including a claim filed at the European Commission for an alleged breach of the rules.

Smaller transactions

It isn’t all big business for our commercial lawyers. Complex issues can arise regardless of the value of a transaction. Our commercial lawyers are happy to advise on smaller transactions and general queries. For example, we regularly advise our school clients on contracts under our school subscription service.

For more advice on contracts and commercial projects, large and small, please contact George Core at or on 01603 222238 or 01603 222630


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