A&O commits itself to ‘social compact’

Magic circle firm Allen & Overy (A&O) last month signed up to a unique social compact with Tower Hamlets council as part of the deal to move the firm to new premises in Spitalfields.

Details of the agreement were still being finalised when Lawyer 2B went to press. It will contain obligations such as providing pro bono legal advice, working with local schools, offering training and job opportunities to residents and considering local companies for services such as catering. The agreement will initially run for five years from the date on which A&O moves into Spitalfields.

A&O already participates in a number of education schemes at schools and colleges in the borough, including St John’s Primary School and Bethnal Green Technology College.

The social compact was a key point of discussion at a lively meeting of the Tower Hamlets Planning Committee in October, when the council resolved to grant permission for the scheme, despite fierce opposition. The planning permission will be granted once the social compact and Section 106 agreement, dealing with the community benefits for the scheme, have been finalised.

Developers are regularly obliged to commit to local communities, but it is unheard of for an occupier with no stake in the development to sign a formal agreement.