The law firm at the heart of the mystery of what is happening at the Metamorph Law group was also involved with Kingly Solicitors, another consolidator shut down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) two years ago, Legal Futures can reveal.
Knowles Benning was not one of the four businesses in the Metamorph group closed by the SRA last week – indeed, before one of them, Beaumont ABS, was shut down, its caseload had already been transferred to the Bedfordshire firm.
Further, two of the others – MLL Ltd and BPL Solicitors – were completing a “managed wind down”, with their client work being transferred to Knowles Benning, operating as the successor practice, according to their websites last week.
In August 2020, the SRA shut down 16-office consolidator Kingly Solicitors, which traded under several different names around the country. Three months later, the firm was placed into liquidation on the application of the SRA.
According to updates at Companies House from joint liquidator Stephen Hunt of Griffins, there was to be litigation to determine whether, in accordance with a signed LLP agreement from 24 July 2020, Kingly had become the prime member of Knowles Benning, entitled to 100% of the profits and 99% of the capital.
The application was listed for January 2022 but settled in November 2021, with Kingly receiving £75,000. The update did not say who made the payment.
Knowles Benning joined Metamorph at the end of June this year. As we also reported last week, three lawyer directors of Knowles Benning resigned last week, leaving Metamorph Group Ltd and Metamorph director Simon Goldhill, who is also group compliance officer for legal practice, as its sole directors.
There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of Knowles Benning or any of its partners or staff.
Meanwhile, the latest update from Mr Hunt said he has so far received more than £14m in claims from non-preferential creditors of Kingly and expects a further £5m – even more than the £17m shown in the statement of affairs.
To date, the liquidators have realised £497,000 at a cost of £324,000. Kingly has no secured creditors, while there has been a preferential claim of £93,000 from the Redundancy Payments Service. Kingly had around 180 staff.
Griffin has so far incurred nearly £580,000 in fees – drawing down £234,000 to date – and expects in all to charge £800,000.
Mr Hunt said his review of the company’s records has been hampered by the non-co-operation of a “third party who appears to have been critically involved with management and operations of the company”.
He has instructed solicitors to apply under section 236 of the Insolvency Act 1986 to compel this person to co-operate.
He continued: “As a result of my investigations so far, I have identified several potential claims that I am currently exploring.”