Jennifer Seymour, Project Finance and Procurement Lawyer
I am a highly-experienced project finance and procurement lawyer with over 20 years' experience advising both private and public sector clients on waste, energy, health, defence and local authority projects. For 13 years I worked for the Department of Health working in the Private Finance Unit and then the commercial department advising on policy, central contracts and the ISTC and PFI programmes. I have been lucky enough to be at the forefront of policy development working on ground-breaking major project finance deals.
Since qualifying as a lawyer in 1998, I have specialised in major projects (typically with values in excess of £50m), initially as a solicitor, but more recently as a legal consultant with clients such as the Department of Health Private Finance Unit (responsible for approving the legal and commercial aspects of hospital projects in the West Midlands to enable them to successfully reach financial close, working on national medicines contracts such as those for pandemic flu and assisting with commercial issues on the ISTC programme) and NHS England (where I assisted them in exiting the ISTC programme). I have extensive experience in PFI and project finance, commencing my career as a lawyer at an international Magic Circle firm acting for the private sector in the defence sector and then with two other major international firms leading a team of lawyers acting for private clients and public sector authorities on major projects ranging from £35 – £350m in the health, defence and local authority sectors. I am an expert in contract management and procurement law, with knowledge of both central and local government structures. As a result of successfully advising authorities within different sectors from the outset of their procurement right through to financial close of the project and project implementation, I am able to share a number of lessons learned and provide commercial advice to operational projects on contract and change management.
Acting as the lead lawyer on major projects means that I have the ability to communicate technical concepts clearly to both other legal and non-legal advisers. It also means that I am able to manage the full team of legal specialists, reporting back to clients and other stakeholders at appropriate levels. I was responsible for keeping to the budget quoted at the outset and reporting against that, owning our outputs and collaborating with the client team and other advisors to ensure that projects were approved and delivered on time and to budget.
I've advised on compliance with public procurement regulations from both the public and private sector perspective. I have advised on all key project documents and fully understand the balance of risk allocation within major capital development projects.
I advised on the development of the standardised PFI contract, which was then later used to develop the ISTC standard contract and the NHS Standard contract. I also worked for the 4Ps on their Gateway Review programme and the development of their standard procurement packs for various sectors (streetlighting, schools). This meant that the PFI programmes were able to be rolled out with a significant reduction in cost to the public purse and ensured that there was an appropriate risk allocation acceptable to both the public and private sectors and the financial institutions who funded these projects.
I was also lucky enough to be offered two international secondments to Warsaw, Poland and Stockholm, Sweden. In both of those positions I worked within international law firms and also educated government organisations on the issues surrounding public sector major capital projects and PFI partnerships programmes. When in Poland and Sweden, I developed a training programme on major projects, PFI and risk allocation to educate both lawyers and non-lawyers.
I was at the cutting edge of the very first PFI programmes, advising the private sector consortium on one of the first PFI road projects and joint staff training college in the defence sector. I was also involved advised on one of the first joined up service projects which saw the health and local authority sectors collaborating on a joined up service centre (which then led to the development of the LIFT programme).
I am a lecturer at the University of Sheffield, Centre for Professional Legal Education. I have spoken widely on PFI and project finance in both the UK and internationally, in Sweden and Poland and have had articles published in the Health Service Journal and other PFI publications. When living in Poland, I learnt Polish and can still converse in Polish when I visit.
In my spare time, I play netball – a good defender (!) and I have been a keen Liverpool supporter since I was very young (recently enjoying their Champions League success), but my children are trying to convert me to Sheffield United – at least they still play in red and white!! I love to go out into the Peak District walking with my family and I also love to travel.