Leading volume conveyancing firm goes into administration

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21 January 2014

Barnett: reconstruction of the business was only way to satisfy everyone

Leading volume conveyancer Barnetts has today been broken into four after going into administration.

However, no jobs are being lost at the Southport-based firm, whose senior partner, Richard Barnett, is a leading member of the Law Society council.

The conveyancing book has been bought by Essex-based licensed conveyancers DC Law, the personal injury and litigation work by Liverpool firm SGI Legal, care home work by national firm Simpson Millar, and interest rate swap cases by claims adviser Seneca Banking Consultants.

Both DC Law and SGI Legal are alternative business structures.

In a statement, the administrators – Leonard Curtis Business Solutions Group – said the “reconstruction… has preserved the business, all 130 jobs and over 3,000 clients. [It] was required to enable the well-established conveyancing practice to move forward and reach its full potential, at a time when the residential property market is gaining strength”.

Joint administrator Julien Irving added: “The legal sector has and continues to face significant pressure that requires legal practices to reassess their business in this challenging environment. We were pleased to enable a successful disposal of the business, made possible by early planning coupled with the quality of the practice and its staff.”

Mr Barnett claimed that the administration was actually “a fantastic opportunity for the firm to be able to move forward to the next level”.

He continued: “The structure of the business had disparate parts, and it was therefore unlikely that we could ever have achieved one buyer for the whole. It has meant therefore that the reconstruction of the business was the only way to satisfy everyone.”

Simon Gibson, managing partner of SGI Legal, said: “It’s a tough operating environment for law firms and I would urge those in difficulty – whether from a financial stability, professional indemnity or regulatory perspective – to take proactive and prompt action to plan for recovery or exit in a manner which protects clients and secures the best outcome for themselves.

“We’ve made no secret of our growth ambitions and have structured our firm to take advantage of developments in the personal injury sector. We will continue to provide positive solutions for those wishing to exit the personal injury sector whilst maximising the opportunities for SGI.”

Last year SGI Legal bought the personal injury book of failed Midlands firm Challinors. Mr Gibson said the firm expects to make further acquisitions over the next six months “as the full force of last year’s personal injury reforms start to bite”.

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