Acquisitions show shape of PI market consolidation

James Maxey

Maxey: Natural fit

Fast-growing personal injury (PI) firm Express Solicitors has made good on its plan to buy practices looking to exit the market by buying McKays in Liverpool.

It has acquired 1,400 ongoing client matters across a range of practice areas – PI, tenancy deposit claims, commercial litigation, and debt recovery and insolvency – keeping 18 members of staff in a job.

Managing partner James Maxey said: “A key element of our strategy this year is to identify other PI firms with owners who may be looking to exit the market and whose expertise would complement our core offering. We strongly believe that McKays Solicitors is a natural fit in this regard.

“Express Solicitors continues to grow, despite the current challenging market conditions, and we remain focussed on becoming a powerful force in the PI sector.”

Last month, the firm reported group turnover for the year ending 31 August 2020 up 29% to a record £27.4m. This includes income from its sister company Ontime Reports, a medical reporting agency.

Despite Covid-19, profit before tax rose from £1m to £4.7m as its caseload grew 6.7% to 14,545.

Adam McKay, the owner of McKays Solicitors, said: “For some time I’ve been looking for a suitable successor firm for McKays so that I could pursue other interests.”

Meanwhile, a firm well known for buying WIP books, Hudgell Solicitors, has acquired the clinical negligence practice of HH Legal, including a nine-strong team and a caseload including high-value claims.

HH Legal is exiting clinical negligence as it focuses on next year’s whiplash reforms along with the industrial disease expertise it acquired in buying Yorkshire firm Heptonstalls in a pre-pack, saving the jobs of more than 100 staff, as we revealed in September.

HH Legal, based in Shrewsbury, was bought by solicitor Dominic Weir this summer as a near-shell.

Rachel Di Clemente, Hudgell’s chief executive, said: “Our desire and ability to further strengthen our market position in clinical negligence made this a perfect fit for both parties.”

Research published earlier in the autumn said that some of the larger players in the PI market were set to merge while others would have to restructure as a result of the whiplash reforms.

Liverpool firm O’Connors advised Express Solicitors, while Gunnercooke acted for HH Legal.

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