Consultation is at the heart of politics and policy-making. We help clients understand it – and deal with it.
Consultations help organisations come to a decision but they need to be inclusive and legally robust to secure an outcome that people trust.
Combining legal and public affairs advice, our team can help to design and implement consultations that minimise the prospect of legal risk, protect reputations and secure outcomes that communities can have faith in. We also have a strong track record of assisting clients to participate in and respond to consultation exercises as effectively as possible, enabling them to shape the agenda.
Our experienced team advise on all aspects of political engagement and reputation management.
We have uniquely built our own public affairs and communications practice. Our solicitors and Parliamentary Agents have a long and distinguished history with Westminster and Whitehall. We understand government and Parliament, and work with clients to identify and engage with their stakeholders to help them build support and address opposition.
Combining public affairs advice with legal expertise, means that we can offer our clients a comprehensive and integrated approach to addressing their legal, political, policy and reputational challenges.
Our team has worked with organisations from across transport, telecommunications, financial services, retail, health and social care, utilities and energy sectors. Clients have included commercial organisations, public sector bodies, regulators, trade bodies, charities and individuals.
Interaction with these audiences can focus on policy or legislative proposals with the objective of bringing about change, improving implementation or profits to influence the wider political context.
Our skilled team have significant experience and expertise in this area, having worked closely with clients in diverse sectors for many years. We can advise you on interpreting and engaging in policy at all stages of development, from conception through to implementation in primary and secondary legislation.
It is vital for an organisation to know what is being said, where and by whom. The policy agenda of any political institution, the devolved administrations or the European Union can all change rapidly. Long simmering issues can suddenly become ‘hot topics’ and all too often the systems to help draw attention to these issues are not in place.
Having a proactive monitoring system in place to cover political and policy developments is therefore essential. ‘Horizon scanning’ systems are at the heart of any successful reputation management and public affairs strategy.
We can deliver early sight of potential opportunities and threats that may require a response; providing you with regular updates on relevant issues delivered in a way and at a time that suits you.
Consultation has been defined as the process of dialogue that leads to a decision. Effective consultation is a key part of the policy-making process, stakeholder engagement and is now an essential stage in the implementation of projects as well.
Requirements for public consultation and stakeholder engagement are increasingly set by statute and case law, at both national and EU levels, as well as by expectations and standards of best practice. There have been a number of successful challenges to decisions on the basis of inadequate or flawed consultation.
We also have experience in preparing for and making appearances before Select Committees.
Our unique combination of legal and public affairs expertise means that we advise clients on all issues relating to consultation – from legal requirements and obligations, through to best practice in planning and implementing a consultation programme.
Managing public consultation not only minimises your legal risk and reputation, it can also reduce costs and provide greater certainty. It enables better policy making and allows projects to be delivered quickly and efficiently, as well as helping to build support and identify opposition as early as possible.
Dealing with the media is an essential part of any organisation’s communications and reputation management strategy. Proactive media relations can help build a positive profile, develop a useful range of contacts, and help to deliver a successful public affairs programme.
Our team also works with clients to prepare for and manage the consequences of a crisis or other negative publicity. We can advise and support you when facing the glare of the media spotlight, ensuring that you are able to protect both your organisation’s reputation and your own.
Members of our team have worked on a range of high profile cases including controversial corporate announcements, health and safety incidents, judicial actions and covert media investigations.
There are some unique and difficult political and communications challenges involved in the promotion and delivery of development projects. Working with communities and delivering what is often legally required of public consultation is just the starting point.
Working alongside our major projects and planning legal experts, we can assist you in engaging with local communities, their elected representatives and other stakeholders to promote a development.
Our experienced public affairs team have worked within a variety of leading development sectors in particular transport, retail and healthcare. The firm has extensive experience advising on the authorisation of developments of all types and sizes, including airport projects, rail and light rail projects, ports, and commercial and housing developments.
The team at BDB regularly works with existing teams to help develop strategies, comment on proposals, ensure that consultations are effective or consider tactical responses to a crisis.
We can provide a ‘double check’ to fill in the missing pieces and ensure that the approach is robust and effective. We supplement the knowledge, experience and expertise of the existing team such as when they are moving into a new area of policy or political communications, or are facing a unprecedented crisis. This work can be a short-term, one-off sense-check or as part of a longer-term strategic relationship.
We can also advise on the implications of Brexit.
As a team, they are very cohesive and 'very highly competent'. 'Very supportive' and 'willing to pull out all of the stops.'
Chambers & Partners UK 2018