And then there were two – SRA shuts another Metamorph firm

Goldhill: Sole director of Browns

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) last week closed down yet another firm in the Metamorph Law Group, leaving just two still operating.

Browns Solicitors, which had offices in High Wycombe and Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, is the seventh business in the group shut down by the regulator, which said “it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients (or former or potential clients) of the firm”.

Parrott & Coales, also in Aylesbury, and Southampton-based Beeston Edwards are the last two group firms standing.

Metamorph acquired Browns in April 2021. At the time, it had 30 staff across the two offices handling residential conveyancing, commercial property, and wills and probate work.

Companies House records say partners David Hodges and Justin Bradley ceased to be directors on 13 December, six weeks after Metamorph boss Tony Stockdale resigned his directorship.

That left Metamorph director Simon Goldhill, a solicitor and group compliance officer for legal practice, as the sole director of Browns.

Last August, Browns registered a charge in favour of business lender Reparo Finance. Mr Goldhill and Mr Stockdale signed it.

As with the rest of the group, Browns’ 2020/21 accounts – due on 30 June 2022 – remain outstanding.

Accountancy firm Crowe has so far resigned as the auditor for three group companies – MLL, BPL Solicitors and Beaumont ABS – because of a breakdown in its relationship with them.

In identical letters, Crowe explained: “We are resigning because we have been unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to resolve serious concerns we have identified during our audit of the financial statements of the company for the year ended 30 June 2021, the most recent financial year for which have conducted audit work.

“That audit has not been completed and, despite repeated requests, the company has failed to provide information and explanations sufficient to address our concerns.

“In addition, we have concerns around management’s behaviour in terms of their approach to compliance with law and regulations.”

This mean that their relationship had broken down “and given the significance of these matters, we have concluded that we cannot continue as auditors to the company and should resign”.

As with the rest of the group, Yorkshire firm Gordons is the SRA’s intervention agent. It has created a dedicated website for clients, staff and others.

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