Questions over what is happening at law firm consolidator Metamorph Group have intensified after its executive chairman ceased to be a director but remains one at the law firm that has taken over Beaumont Legal.
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 last week showed that chairman Tony Stockdale was no longer a director of many of them: Metamorph Group, Metamorph Group Services, Atray Ltd (known until recently as Metamorph Law), Beaumont ABS, MLL Ltd, Knight Polson, BPL Solicitors, Browns Solicitors, and Beeton Edwards.
However, he remains a director of Knowles Benning, a three-office Bedfordshire practice that joined the Metamorph group in July, which has just taken over Beaumont ABS. This traded in Wakefield as volume conveyancing and remortgaging firm Beaumont Legal.
Beaumont Legal’s website now just tells users that the firm has been acquired by Knowles Benning and points them to its website.
Estate agency Connells issued a winding-up petition against Beaumont ABS last week, with a hearing scheduled for 22 November in Leeds.
Last month, MLL Ltd was served with a winding-up petition by HM Revenue & Customs. MLL owns four of the Metamorph law firms: Linder Myers, SLC Solicitors, Verisona Law and Donnelly & Elliott. The hearing is scheduled for 16 November at the Rolls Building in London.
Metamorph acquired Beaumont Legal from US legal giant LegalZoom in 2020, its biggest deal at the time. LegalZoom had acquired Beaumont Legal in 2016 for £6.4m but sold it because of its sub-par performance.
Like many of the Metamorph companies, Beaumont’s annual accounts are overdue. Its most recent accounts, for the 18 months to 30 June 2020 – and so affected in the last three and a half months by lockdown – showed a turnover of £9.5m and operating loss of nearly £2m (ignoring exceptional income in the form of LegalZoom waiving a loan of nearly £14m).
In the previous 12 months, Beaumont’s turnover was £9m with a similar operating loss. Staff numbers also fell significantly, from 195 as at 31 December 2018 to 130 18 months later.
Despite multiple requests, Metamorph has not commented on the latest developments.