COLLAPSED 18-office Liverpool practice Deacon Goldrein Green is at the centre of the biggest ever law firm receivership after the Manchester High Court appointed accountants Pannell Kerr Forster to take over the running of the business.
The firm collapsed suddenly two weeks ago when talks with the Royal Bank of Scotland over possible individual voluntary arrangements for partners failed.
Joint receivers Andrew Thompson and Philip Long will preside over disposal of property and assets of the firm, deal with staff matters and try to secure a disposal of parts of the business.
Liverpool law firm Mace & Jones is appointed to advise the receivers. Partner Craig Blakemore says: "The object is to effect an orderly disposal and winding up of the former partnership's business. It is in everybody's interests if one could effect a disposal rather than merely pass files out to individual solicitors."
The receivers were appointed at the equity partners' instigation, rather than their bankers', a move praised by Mr Justice Parker who appointed the receivers.
Receiver Andrew Thompson says the partners' aim is to "maximise the value of assets, thereby making money available to creditors".
The Solicitors' Complaints Bureau (SCB) intervention - its biggest yet - could cost the profession up to u1 million in solicitor agent's fees alone if it cannot dispose of it within six to 12 months, says an SCB spokesman. Debts of up to u5 million are estimated.
The Legal Aid Board (LAB) confirmed it is a potential creditor and is thought to be owed around u700,000. The LAB debt arose legitimately through use of an LAB payment on account scheme, says LAB director of finance and personnel Brian Harvey.
It is understood that bankruptcy petitions have been issued against the firm's eight equity partners by a finance company.