cokecolCoca-Cola Enterprises enters document automation and contract negotiation portal deal with Novatus, reports Insider associate editor Caroline Hill…

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) UK legal team has entered into a sizeable document automation deal with cloud-based contract management software company Novatus, which will also see CCE roll out an online customer deal room in the latter half of 2015. CCE is responsible for the manufacturing, distribution and consumer-facing business of Coca-Cola in Great Britain. The in-house legal team, which is 30-strong across Europe and led by vice president, legal and company secretary Paul Van Reesch, will now automate repeat contracts including sponsorship contracts, trading contracts and non-disclosure agreements, including introducing electronic signatures. Thousands of existing contracts will be loaded onto the system so that they can be viewed digitally.

The second half of 2015 will see CCE’s deal with Florida-based Novatus extended to include an online contract negotiation portal, where participants can ‘check in’ and ‘check out’ documents for review, track changes, negotiation and execution. As with other deal room set ups, the portal will avoid the need for an exchange of emails and ensures it is always the latest version of the contract in circulation.

The CCE team, which counts CMS Cameron McKenna, Slaughter and May, Bristows and Lewis Silkin among its main advisers, has also launched an app to help educate the business on their legal obligations.

The move comes as Van Reesch, in a further bid to redefine and improve the efficiency and performance of the team, plans to apply for a Law Society Lexcel standard in May, after putting in place a number of changes to processes and procedures to enable it to qualify. Changes include creating a handbook that sets out how the team operates, service-level agreements with the business and auditing procedures to comply with various Solicitors Regulation Authority requirements. Van Reesch said: “We will be one of only two in-house teams to have it and we have been doing loads of work to get it.”

Last year CCE implemented Datacert Passport in a bid to help achieve the Lexcel accreditation. At the time Van Reesch said: “Passport is a critical component to us reaching this goal because it will allow us to achieve a uniform approach to managing matters across the broader team, as well as increased visibility of key success metrics.”

The move comes as many in-house legal teams are finding it easier to gain investment in technology, having proved their worth to the business. CCE has brought in around £5m in revenue from successful litigation and £800,000 in avoiding excess charges from its customers.

Other recent examples of in-house investment in technology include Westfield, which, as revealed by the Legal IT Insider in January, has signed a deal with NetDocuments to implement its cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS).