The mystery of what is happening at law firm consolidator Metamorph deepened last week after executive chairman Tony Stockdale returned as a director – just three weeks after quitting.
He indicated to Legal Futures that the future of the group may become clearer this week.
Metamorph operates through 11 law firm brands as well as the QualitySolicitors network. It is made up of a web of companies.
Companies House filings showed that Mr Stockdale resigned as a director of nine of them on 1 November, including the holding company, Metamorph Group.
However, as of 22 November, he has now been reappointed to Metamorph Group. The only other executive director is solicitor Simon Goldhill, another of Metamorph’s founders.
Mr Stockdale has remained a director of Knowles Benning, a three-office Bedfordshire practice that joined Metamorph in July and has recently taken over another group company, Wakefield-based Beaumont Legal.
Beaumont had been served a winding-up petition by estate agents Connells, before which another group company, MLL Ltd, was served one by HM Revenue & Customs.
MLL owns four of the Metamorph law firms: Linder Myers, SLC Solicitors, Verisona Law and Donnelly & Elliott. According to the website RollonFriday, those four are to be sold to Knowles Benning too.
Though Metamorph responded to press enquiries when the MLL petition entered the public domain, it has refused to comment on subsequent events. But contacted by Legal Futures in the wake of his reappointment, Mr Stockdale said an update should be forthcoming this week.
All of the various companies’ accounts for 2021 are five months’ overdue.
During Mr Stockdale’s absence from the board, non-executive director Keith Ashworth stepped down, leaving Metamorph Group with two non-executive directors: David Whitlock – a former senior managing director for RBS who for the last five years has been business development director at City law firm GSC Solicitors – and Shaun Dixon, a financial advisor and founder of Shrewsbury-based Kingsland Wealth Management.
Mr Stockdale is an accountant who helped build up RSM Bentley Jennison from scratch to be the 14th largest firm of accountants in the country at the time. It was acquired by Tenon in 2009 to create the seventh and Mr Stockdale had left by the time Tenon went into administration in 2013.