Deacons carve-up 'hit by delays'

LAWYERS involved in the take-over of collapsed firm Deacon Goldrein Green have hit out at “abysmal” delays in the transfer of files.

Merseyside practice J Keith Park & Co was given the go- ahead last week to take over Deacon's head office and five branch offices.

Client files from the remaining 12 offices will be carved up between seven other local firms.

The Law Society's adjudication and appeals committee agreed to divide the work between Caplan Goodman & Co, Edwards Abrams & Doherty, Mackrell & Thomas, Kilner Ashton Polston, Specter & Grant, De Cordova Alis & Filce and Gregory Abrams.

But practitioners are angry that files were not ready for transfer the moment the formal decision was made. A spokeswoman for the Solicitors' Complaints Bureau (SCB) says the sheer scale of the disposal made this impossible.

Harry Friend, partner with Gregory Abrams, says: “It's abysmal that things have taken so long.”

He says that the eight firms were given conditional approval on 6 November and it was known that the matter would be resolved by the adjudication committee within four days at the latest.

“Clients interests would have been best served if files were ready for immediate release at that time,” he says.

But when The Lawyer went to press on Friday, many files had still not been passed across.

De Cordova partner Jonathan Malits says clients have been left in limbo: “They could have been better served if arrangements had been made more quickly,” he says.

“Having said that, this sort of thing hasn't happened before.”

The SCB spokeswoman says it would have been inappropriate to prepare documentation for the transfer of files in advance of a formal decision.

“There is a lot of documentation to get through and the system does have to be properly organised. The committee could have decided against disposals,” she says.

She adds that it is not physically possible to turn a case around that quickly and those acquiring files would have been told this.

Staff from Deacons were laid off when receivers were appointed, but several firms have confirmed they have offered them work.

Caplan Goodman is taking on four fee earners, while other firms are waiting to see how things pan out.

Deacon's collapse has also spawned a wave of advertising in the City, with several firms including Paul Rooney & Co trying to lure former clients.