(L-R) Gowling WLG partner Gus Wood, senior associate Alexandra Poynter and director Dominic Richardson with Legal Week senior reporter Rose Walker

Finalists: CMS; Dechert (highly commended); MacRoberts

Gowling WLG was names commercial team of the year for its work advising South London Waste Partnership (SLWP), which is comprised of four London borough councils, on an eight-year project to deliver new recycling centres and investment in waste collection and energy recovery infrastructure.

For the latest phase of the project, Gowling devised an open-book procurement strategy across different contract tenders that would maximise revenue sharing opportunities. That meant negotiating with the winning bidder what percentage of the revenue generated on recyclates would be shared with the councils, exploiting any commercial opportunities and putting in place an annual review process to encourage the contractors to be innovative and proactive.

The project will yield savings of more than £200m over 25 years and generate 26 megawatts of electricity each year from household waste.

In order to control costs, Gowling senior associate Alexandra Poynter project managed the procurement process, with any senior legal involvement being agreed ahead of time to provide more clarity on price.

“Gowling WLG steered us through many complex legal issues and political challenges influencing the procurement and evaluation processes,” said Frank Smith, commercial lead for SLWP. “We now have contracts which deliver very substantial savings, high performance standards and yet remain flexible and commercially balanced.”