Posted on 22 May 2014
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What is Projects, exactly? Part 1

In my last post, I tried to give an idea of what being a trainee in Tax, Trusts and Succession actually involved, because I didn’t think the name gave all that much away. I’m now in Projects – so what does that mean?

I should probably start by saying that the Projects team at Michelmores also includes our Procurement, Competition and Education teams.

What is Procurement?

Google the definition of procurement and you’ll find it’s essentially buying goods and services. Procurement as a legal term prevents public bodies (Councils, Government Departments and pretty much anything with “HM” as the first two letters of its name) from purchasing goods and services from their business contacts with no consideration of whether this is the best use of public money. When a public body’s order for goods and/or services is above a certain value, the procurement rules apply irrespective of whether the public body is buying pens and pencils or construction services for bridges, hospitals or schools.

There are European laws (implemented in the UK by the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 for those who are particularly keen) which prevent these public bodies buying goods or services over what is known as the “threshold value”, without following one of four procedures to determine who will be the favoured supplier. Each of these essentially involve the public body advertising that they’re interested in purchasing goods and/or services, and suppliers across Europe getting in touch and explaining what they can offer to the public body.

What is Projects?

After the procurement process, the construction of a school will involve the public body, the construction company, usually a private lender and various facilities and maintenance contractors who will look after the day to day maintenance of the building following completion of the construction.

Michelmores often act for the public body as part of this process and we will draft and negotiate all the contracts the public body needs to sign. This sounds like a relatively straightforward process – but these contracts (of which there are many!) extend to hundreds of pages and lawyers from across the firm in employment, property, construction and corporate all pull together to get the deals done.

Working in the projects team has been a huge change from private client, but a great experience so far. I’ll cover the competition and education elements of the projects team in my next post!