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DWF has confirmed it will honour all Cobbetts’ training contracts, both for those trainees already at the firm and those yet to start.
The confirmation comes as the pre-pack deal deal by which DWF has acquired Cobbetts completed, following yesterday’s appointment of KPMG as administrators at the High Court (6 February 2012).
Cobbetts filed notice that it intended to appoint KPMG administrators last week following poorer than expected trading in November and December last year, which caused the firm to review its financial position and subsequently obtain an interim statutory moratorium to enable a sale of the business and its assets (30 January 2013).
The Cobbetts team comprises a total of 491 people, of which 72 are partners. Based across offices in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and London, they will migrate across to existing DWF office space within the next few weeks.
In a statement DWF said “As part of the deal, DWF will honour all training contracts which includes those already in place, as well as those contracts entered into with trainees who are yet to start.”
The move excludes the finance litigation team, due to the potential commercial conflicts following DWF’s recent merger with Fishburns. The team will join Leeds based firm, Walker Morris.
The acquisition will also not include the Cobbetts’ Debt Recovery team, Incasso.
In a statement DWF’s managing partner and CEO, Andrew Leaitherland said “Both firms agreed that this was the best route forward and so the process was a smooth one, with the two parties working towards the same outcome.”
Reacting to the news, Heather Iqbal-Rayner, president of the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society, said: “We were ready to help trainees displaced as a result of the firm’s financial problems, but are delighted with DWF’s decision to honour all Cobbetts training contracts. We, and the Law Society, stand ready to help in similar circumstances in the future.”