The government has trimmed its expenditure on external law firms by 10 per cent, according to research published this week by Thomson Reuters.

The business information firm’s survey analysed spending patterns at 37 departments and concluded that spending in the year ending 31 March 2019 was £196.4m, compared to £217.2m in 2016/17, as the Crown Commercial Service focused on cutting costs.

The ongoing demands of Brexit, however, could reverse the trend, according to reports in the Law Society Gazette.

Desmond Brady, Thomson Reuters’ director of public sector, academic and bar, said: “The huge additional workload that Brexit represents will likely test the resilience of the Government Legal Department’s consolidated model. It will, no doubt, be running at full capacity.

“The legal profession expects Brexit will result in an increase in work for external law firms. We’d expect to see the same picture for government lawyers.”

The Thomson Reuters research points out that one of the biggest spenders included the Department for International Trade, which paid out £5.2m on external law firms last year.

The department was created in 2016 to manage international trade agreements following Brexit.