PwC UK has become the first Big Four firm to adopt the universal model non-disclosure agreement created by oneNDA. It will now be using the template for its clients across the UK, in a move that will help the standardisation of basic contracts to become more mainstream.
PwC UK was a founding member of the oneNDA steering committee, so to some extent the move is not a massive surprise, but it remains a very important step for the project, given the size of the Big Four firm and its client reach across the UK’s corporate world.
The PwC UK adoption initiative has been led by Louise Chambers, Director in PwC’s Office of General Counsel, and Graham Edwards, from PwC UK’s NewLaw team.
Danielle Perfect, Partner in PwC’s Office of General Counsel, commented: ‘As an in-house team we are committed to being business focused, easy to work with and forward thinking in our approach to contracting. For us, oneNDA ticked all of these boxes. Adopting oneNDA means we are able to save considerable time and resources across the UK Firm, cutting out unnecessary negotiations at the start of engagements, enabling us to get to the heart of doing what we do best, serving our clients.’
Chambers, Director in PwC’s Office of General Counsel, added: ‘Given the intention behind the initiative we didn’t need much convincing as an in-house team that adopting oneNDA was the right approach to take, not only for us but also for our clients (both internal and external). With a finite number of lawyers, we are hoping the time savings gained from not having to negotiate NDAs will free up resources to concentrate on other exciting things. We look forward to working with The Law Boutique and the oneNDA community on future variations of oneNDA.’
The news follows the recent announcements that the oneNDA’s first project – its non-disclosure agreement – has now gone live, as well as a plan to work on new ‘modules’ that will build upon the foundations they have created. M&A deals will be the next target area.
Commenting on the PwC roll out, Electra Japonas, CEO of The Law Boutique, and oneNDA Co-Founder, said: ‘Having PwC UK on board as the first Big Four organisation to have adopted oneNDA is a huge step towards realising oneNDA’s goal. We are proud to have PwC UK as a founding member of the oneNDA initiative and seeing PwC UK play such an important role in actively pushing the legal industry forward.
‘The true utility of oneNDA will be realised when the oneNDA community attains critical mass. The objective is to reach a point where two parties who want to engage with one another, are both using oneNDA so any conversation around whose paper to use falls away immediately. This will save companies enormous amounts of time and energy so that they can repurpose in more value-add activities.’
Is this a big deal? Put simply: yes. If PwC in the UK was only going to be using the new model NDA for a very small part of its business it would still be a positive step, but this will be applied across its UK clients. In time, its clients – many of which are FTSE listed companies – will become more accustomed to using this type of approach, at least for the simpler kinds of document.
This approach eventually will seep into the collective consciousness of the commercial legal market and it may thus become ‘normal’ to operate this way. And, of course, with hindsight when one considers this, it looks like something the market should have adopted decades ago, and perhaps people outside of the legal market would be surprised that it hadn’t been already.
Let’s give the last word to Alan Angell, Director in PwC’s NewLaw business, who concluded: ‘We are thrilled to have been a central part of such a progressive initiative as the launch of oneNDA.
‘Legal innovation and a drive for greater efficiency and optimisation in the way legal services are delivered is at the heart of our NewLaw and wider Legal business strategy; this milestone represents a significant move forward in that regard and I am excited about the clear efficiencies to be gained for both our business and our clients.’
If this subject is of interest, then come along to the Legal Innovators conference in London on October 21 and 22. Tickets are on sale now.