Crest Nicholson Case Study
Myles Gibbins, Group IT Director at housebuilder Crest Nicholson, comments on the pragmatism and commercial nous of the TLA team.
When IT director Myles Gibbins of homebuilder Crest Nicholson was embarking on a crucial outsourcing deal for the company’s entire IT infrastructure he immediately called his lawyer at Technology Law Alliance (TLA).
“It’s second nature to me now,” says Gibbins. “If anything contractual comes up then [TLA partner] Jeremy Newton is the person I will call.”
It was not always that way. Five years ago, Crest was using a top 20 City law firm for all its legal work but Gibbins says that it was becoming more and more expensive and the firm was sending him less and less experienced lawyers.
It was becoming like dealing with an audit practice, he says, where you see the partner once in a while but most of the time you are just dealing with junior lawyers. With TLA’s model you are guaranteed a senior lawyer.
“You are not only getting somebody with an appropriate level of experience and gravitas but it also reinforces the relationship because you’re dealing with Jeremy all the time,” explains Gibbins.
TLA first started working with Crest in April 2005 when the homebuilder was moving head office and looking to outsource its computer systems for the first time. Newton calls it a “lift and shift” deal – lift the kit from the original HQ office and shift it to the supplier’s data centre, along with responsibility for its support and operation.
TLA won a beauty parade for the work after Gibbins’ predecessor tired of traditional City rates and practices. Crest was also keen to use a smaller supplier, which would regard the homebuilder as a more important client. That policy was also applied to the company’s choice of IT supplier. It selected Digica, which would eventually be acquired by Computacenter in 2007.
Crest, TLA and Computacenter have since gone on to work together on other deals culminating in the infrastructure contract. The contract was regarded as essential to the company’s development as it would establish the management and support of the entire technology platform, which the whole company operates on.
“I’ve always found with Jeremy and the others at TLA, they go above and beyond the call of duty. When he is on site and going through contract negotiations, he doesn’t just bring the legal bit, he brings a bit of clarity to commercial discussions.”
Gibbins remembers one such situation during some particularly tense and emotive negotiations. Things seemed to be heading for a stalemate with everyone arguing different points.
“Jeremy jumped up, scribbled some things on the white board and said ‘Guys, this is what you’re talking about. You’re really not that far apart.’ He’s a good facilitator.”
TLA has now advised Crest on a series of outsourcing deals across the voice and data communications spectrum.
“They have a decent technical appreciation. They talk the right language,” says the IT director. “And it is very obvious when you talk to any of the TLA lawyers that they have worked on both sides with a mixture of in-house and service provider legal knowledge.”
“It’s an all-round package of legal advice around technology matters and they are very down to earth and more pragmatic than almost any other solicitor I have worked with,” concludes Gibbins. “That’s a fairly unique package.”