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Tesco is conducting a review of panel firms advising on strategic trading and criminal defence work.John Longworth, head of the trading law group and technical director, said that the review process, which started at the beginning of the year, would be completed by Christmas.The new panel will cover all areas of work for the trading group, including product law, health and safety, environmental protection, food law and consumer affairs. The panel will have overall responsibility for advising on both management strategy and defending the group in prosecutions.As part of the review, the supermarket giant is “trying firms out” and assessing the advice given, Longworth said.“My personal view is however much you go through beauty parades, interviews and recommendations from other people, there is nothing like trying a firm out,” he added.Longworth said that a number of firms had already been ditched.The remaining contenders are previous panel advisers Paisner & Co, Freshfields, Pinsent Curtis, McGrigor Donald and niche West End firm Gersten & Nixon. In addition the group is also looking at Titmuss Sainer Dechert and Clifford Chance.Longworth said that he aimed to select one firm for corporate strategic advice and two or three regional firms for defence work. He will also be selecting one firm in Scotland, which is likely to be McGrigor Donald.Long-term adviser Berwin Leighton is not being considered for the work. Longworth said that the firm chose not to pitch for the work nine months before the review began, although it remains Tesco’s principal corporate and property adviser.“It was a meeting of minds on where their strengths lie and it was agreed that this is not one of them,” he said.

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