Two more Metamorph firms have today been shut down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority – including the consoldiator’s largest remaining practice, Knowles Benning.
The regulator confirmed this afternoon that it had intervened into the practices of Knowles Benning LLP and Knight Polson Limited. In both cases the SRA said its action was necessary to protect the interests of clients or former clients.
The intervention includes branches in Sale, Shefford, Luton, Dunstable, Chester, Gosport and Shrewsbury. It does not impact upon the remaining members of the Metamorph Group: Browns, Beeton Edwards or Parrott & Coale.
Last week the SRA intervened into MLL Ltd, BPL Solicitors Ltd, Beaumont ABS Ltd and Atray Ltd – on each occasion the reason given was also the protection of client interests.
A spokesperson for the SRA said today: ‘An intervention means the SRA has closed a firm with immediate effect. It will stop the firm from operating, take possession of all documents and papers held by the firm, and take possession of all money held by the firm (including clients’ money).
‘It is not responsible towards employees or trade creditors of firms that it has intervened in.’
The SRA will continue to investigate issues raised that have led to this intervention to see if any additional action is necessary. An intervention agent from Leeds firm Gordons LLP has been appointed to handle the closed firms’ matters.
Knowles Benning was the significant of the remaining Metamorph group having taken on many of the files and staff from other practices. It is understood that staff affected by the closings of the last week are still waiting for information because the group’s internal IT system has gone down and no emails are being received.
A staff member told the Gazette that they are expecting – and indeed hoping – to be made redundant and then to claim money back through government schemes. Many have not been paid for at least two months.
Metamorph had described itself as ‘revolutionizing legal services’ by bringing experts from across the country to create a network of firms.
Hampshire practice Knight Polson joined the group in September 2020. It was formerly part of the Quality Solicitors network. Since that move, it has been rebranded, with a new website and logo at its Eastleigh and Southampton offices.
Knowles Benning was the most recent Metamorph acquisition, which took the group’s underlying annual revenue to £35m and total number of staff to around 650. It operated from three offices in Bedfordshire and specialized in residential conveyancing, commercial property, family, care, employment, road traffic, personal injury and wills and trouble.
The firm had effectively acted as successor practice to the firms being wound down in recent weeks, with BPL Solicitors, for example, telling clients that work was being transferred to Knowles Benning. According to Companies House, Knowles Benning head of wills, trusts and probate Antonio Fallanca, head of crime Catherine Smith and head of property Stephen Atkins all ceased to be members of the firm earlier this month. Tony Stockdale, Metamorph’s executive chairman, had his membership terminated the day before.
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