Categories:North West

Halliwells’ ex-managing partner: ‘I gave my life to that practice’

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  • Why interview 200 partners when they only really need look to Ian Austin and Alec Craig for the answers? Even when partners made requests for information they didn't get what they asked for and it should not be forgotten that one group of equity partners deliberately tried to conceal the reverse premium from another group of equity partners. Not exactly likely that the 160 in the latter group will know very much about the finances but they know they have been royally shafted. Austin, Craig and the department heads cajoled and bullied the FSM's and told them that the firm was in a great financial position in order to get them to contribute 10-20k each. What financial information did they get to support these assertions? The Administrator needs to look very carefully at what these people did and said.

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  • The equity partners were expecting millions from floating the business. They lost the chance to do that as a result of their short term greed. Snatching what amounted to 2 yrs remuneration for each of them from the reverse premium really sums it up. Mr Austin could have retired a wealthy man without a liquidator and a host of creditros breathing down his neck

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  • any news on the defamation claim brought by Austin on behalf of Salford University?

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  • The people who ran this firm were sucked into the culture of greed which caused the global crash. They took 18M out of the business in cash and replaced it with 20M of debt and hugely increased the operating costs. The rent for Spinningfields together with the rents due on several other properties combined with the interest payments crippled the business. The downturn was already underway when they took the money out so Austin's comments do not sit easily with the reality of the position. The equity partners behaved recklessly and got what they deserved. The FSM's and other staff who worked hard for the firm do not deserve what they have been through and it is hoped that the Administrator does not let the greedy and stupid equity partners get away with it.

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  • RE: Austin's defamation case - there is another hearing tomorrow at the Manchester Civil Justice Centre. Things are likely to move slowly.

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  • The question which ought to be asked as part of the Freedom of Info requests are;
    1. How much WIP did Halliwells tell Salford that they had on the clock when the files were transferred to Heatons?
    2. Did Salford give an undertaking to pay the WIP? If so to whom was that undertaking given?
    3. How much has Heatons billed Salford so far?

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  • @Salford - why not submit the request yourself? Or perhaps you've seen how unlikely it is you'll get an answer!

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  • Liquidation should occur within a couple of months and then the fun will really start.

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  • The Sunday Times have now picked up on this story - RBS are now allegedly pursuing the individual partners for the £15m lent. Wonder who is first in the firing squad of ex-partners?

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  • I was interviewed for a job with Halliwells a little under 3 weeks before they filed a notice of intention to appoint an administrator. Clearly, senior management were deluded and failing miserably to communicate between themselves. I guess that is only to be expected when there is a two-tier partnership in place and the partners in the know are jockeying to protect themselves. Coupled with a total disregard for the staff whose lives they have ruined by sheer naked greed, Ian Austin's plea for understanding is nauseating. His firm failed under his direction and management - FACT !

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  • @ Anonymous 17/1/11
    Reading recent statements from the SRA about their getting involved in the Halliwells break up process one wonders at what stage management engaged with the SRA and if it was prior to the serving of notice of intention to appoint whether they informed the SRA that hiring solicitors was continuing... I'm guessing they didn't because it would certainly seem odd for the SRA to have allowed recruitment to continue!
    Perhaps you should contact the SRA to ensure they are aware of this. I understand they are still investigating the demise of Halliwells...
    One wonders also about the insolvency law implications of taking on additional staff when management were about to file notice to appoint an administrator...

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  • It is astonishing that Austin was allowed to manage the firm for as long as he did. He was adept at removing those who took issue with his limitations but you really would have thought that the partners would have seen him for what he was and removed him far sooner than they did. I expect they all regret it now.

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  • If he gave his life to Halliwells what's he giving to Heatons? Bad publicity?

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  • what's happening on the salford case?

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  • I remember watching all the hot air and guff coming out about Halliwells great move to Spinningfields. So much hope for a bright future and they couldn't even pay the rent for 12 months. What a joke.

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  • RE: The Salford Case - nothing is happening. Yet again, Austin botched up the draft order (which the Judge refused to approve in its submitted form) and nobody has heard anything since. They're actually running out of time to issue proceedings as many of the statements were made well over a year ago now.

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  • Dermot brings reality to the Manc market. When Austin was beating us all up for money, he forgot to mention the £20m that had been taken out - wonder if that could possibly be material.......

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/57798d36-321b-11e0-a820-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1DGjCoPap

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  • Of course it is material - would you have put your money in if Austin had dislcosed the full extent of the lease liabilities and the £20m taken out by some but not all of the equity partners (the FSM's got nothing despite them being equity partners whilst the FD got hundreds of thousands when he had made no capital contribution)?
    Will Dermot do anything about it? I very much doubt he will.

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  • I doubt Dermot will do anything but - depending on what his report uncovers - I think it is quite possible that others might wish to begin a civil case against Austin et al. Personally I regard what he did as deception, pure and simple. If I were one of the former FSM's I certainly wouldn't be inclined to let him get away with it.

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  • Wonder what would happen if the loss of the Spinningfields' £20m "opportunity" lost to Halliwells LLP (and taken up only by Troughers United (FMs and FD only) LLP was repaid into Halliwells' LLP (in admin) by way of an unwind for a breach of trust. If you restated the accounts with the £20m recovered, the bank (and others) would be in an interesting position.

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  • Interesting as far as the bank is concerned as it would get out in full. The unsecured creditors would get a dividend but they wouldn't get out in full.
    It is the only way the bank and we the tax payer avoid taking a bath. Morally you would hope the bank has a crack at it, legally the 06 Companies Act would appear to give the bank a foot hold.

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  • The latest Administrators report doesn't give much away apart from the fact only 13 partners out of the 40 who took the reverse premium were left at the time when the firm went into administration. I don't think BDO will be the liquidator when it eventually goes in. The report doesn't say this expressly but there are a few hints. Probably needs somebody outside of the Manchester market to do what needs to be done.

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  • I think that it is only fitting that The Lawyer publishes a special pull-out and keep supplement featuring the comments.

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  • I think the Liquidator needs to use this article and the comments as a reference tool for his investigations

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  • My favourite story is when they told Auston that there waqs no room for him at the firms which came in to buy the Halliwells assets.
    Even peole he had supported for years in the face of poor performance rejected him and left him to fend for himself.
    Oh the delicious irony of their lack of loyalty and failure to speak up for him.
    Saving their own bacon was their priority lol.

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  • Not sure any of us had appetite for the self-aggrandisement and swagger, let alone any of the less helpful traits!

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  • I am aware as an indispuitable fact that recruitment interviews were being conducted for positions at Halliwells upto two weeks before they collapsed. Is the Senior Partner seriously expecting us to believe he was unaware of that ? WHAT A HYPOCRITE !

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  • The former senior partner is still keeping a low profile. The former managing partner has just coughed up loads of money on the St James's Court debacle and will end up coughing up a lot more as a result of the Spinningfields fiasco. How the mighty have fallen.

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  • If it was only 15m then why is the llp trying to claim back 21m from the partners who took the money?

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  • Those who took the money will end up skint
    Austin led the mad reverse premium dash and his dire management of the firm now has everybody blaming him for messing up the deal.
    Poor Austin, it hurt his pride and self esteem when he was left to fend for himself.
    Now he is skint and 50 there seems little chance of him enjoying his retirement. Greed and a lack of basic economic knowledge has done for him

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  • 12 months have passed since Austin's "I gave my life to that firm interview" so it must be time for part 2, Austin a year on.
    Could be another costly year for Manchester's favourite son. BDO have him firmly in their sights.

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  • The fsms also have him firmly in their sights. Time for him to learn an expensive lesson.

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  • The liquidation of Halliwells will mean a liquidator looking at disqualification, insolvent trading and misfeasance.
    Why didn't you use the £21m for the fit out and removal costs Ian? Surely the £1m you received (most of which you threw back into the money pit) was not worth your job, your reputation, your friends, your expense account, years of litigation and your asset base?
    Madness!

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  • Dear Ian (and colleagues)
    Have you forgotten your video about Halliwells?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyK1sFj4akk

    Any comments?
    Or any apologies?

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  • Re the closing credits................

    Definitely a reverse premium in the pocket.

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  • The SRA has recently been criticised for not pursuing large firms for breaches of the rules, while at the same time hauling small, ethnic minority firms over the coals.
    As an example of large firms getting away with it, you couldn't ask for better than the Halliwells debacle.
    The circumstances of the decline and fall of Halliwells are outrageous. Serious allegations (perhaps only part of the story of wrongdoing) are in the public domain, many being made on this very public discussion page.
    Yet the SRA do nothing.
    Surely it is now time for the SRA to take some action?

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  • Only two weeks until the mediation. Only two weeks before the issue of board culpability is laid bare by the outcasts, the ram raiders and the skint desperate creatures who missed out on the preferences. They is a coming for you Ian, they gave you a bonus but they is a coming.

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  • The guy is battling on against the odds and maybe deserves a break because there are others who should be exposed. I bet those who fed in the detail of the Spinningfields transaction to Legal Business etc for comedy value and to make mischief are feeling a bit sick now they are sitting next to Ian at the mediation.

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  • Surely an "Austin 728 days later" interview is on the cards?

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  • He has only gone and lost the defamation case he was running for Salford University against a litigant in person. Red faces all round.

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  • Damning comments by the Judge too. A great advert for Heatons

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  • Appeal of the decision now abandoned, it's all over bar the sniggering

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