Categories:North West

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

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  • 200 comments - a cause for celebration? Perhaps those people filling in forms should just supply the URL to this story!

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  • Austin must be concerned about the FSM's considering legal action. He was the one who told them that the firm was in a great financial position.

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  • This story is now over 2 months old. Lets move on...

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  • "This story is now over 2 months old. Lets move on..."
    Is that you, Ian? Or perhaps it's the University of Salford trying to discreetly ignore their own folly?

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  • Just looked up Mr Austin's puffpiece on the University's website.
    "Ian’s achievements and efforts didn’t go unnoticed and perhaps one of his career highlights to date was being awarded Management Partner of the Year at the 2006 Legal Business Awards." - shows the value of those awards perhaps?
    "In December 2007 he welcomed the entire Manchester workforce to the impressive new Spinningfields district when Halliwells relocated to 3 Hardman Square. With Ian’s guidance Halliwells has adopted a modern corporate structure and maps out innovative career paths for its staff." - I suppose the structure is as modern as that of Lehman Bros.
    "Strong leadership, business focus, open communications and sound financial management are his trademarks..." - roffles

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  • Believe it or not, Austin and Salford University managers are perfect bedfellows.

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  • It is funny seeing all you regional types getting so hot under the collar and excited by each other's irrelevant gossip.

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  • According to Property Week the cost of the Spinningfields fit-out rose from the original estimate of £6M to £18M. Whilst an additional 70,000 square feet was added to the original 110,000 square feet this does see rather...careless.

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  • @A Nonny Mouse

    The biggest LLP collapse in recent memory (ever?) and the circumstances leading to this hardly qualifies as 'irrelevant gossip'.

    Especially not when so many have been left jobless, creditors out of pocket and the tax man empty handed.

    It also can't be overstated the seriousness that this man (Austin) is still running riot with the finances of a Public Charity (The University of Salford).

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  • Anon 6 Oct 1:09 - I totally agree.

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  • you would think he would resign - the Scep Tick comment made me laugh. How these things come back to haunt you! What words would be used to describe Ian now?

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  • I can think of a few words to describe him...

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  • I suspect he and the other greedy people who wrecked that firm will now have a few regrets. What a come down for all of them. Very unedifying to see them now scratching around litigating against each other. Anybody who knows these characters will not be surprised by what is going on but some of them had been in partnership together for years and you would thave thought that they would have had some respect for each other.

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  • Reading the Legal Business article and yet another revelation kept from the partners as a whole. What on earth was the firm's former FD, Stephen Roe, being paid £500k for from the Spinningfields trousering? Which fiduciaries approved this? On what basis?

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  • Will Ian be givng The Lawyer another interview, since this one seems to have gone down so well?

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  • @Anonymous | 11-Oct-2010 12:49 pm
    Surely the answer is that the FD will have had to sign off on the trousering?

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  • so the fsm's with capital in the business were not even told about the Spinningfields money and they received nothing whilst the FD who had no capital invested received 500k? Nice one Ian, how did he earn his bonus?

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  • Partially correct I think - the FD probably had no capital invested, unless there were some very unusual arrangements there.

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  • The legal business article is extremely interesting. Some real gems in there.

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  • Classic case of a person who has forgotten that you work to live, not live to work.
    Mr Austin quite simply, got it wrong.

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  • And now the landlord CSAM is thinking of suing and has instructed Eversheds to look at a potential claim....
    From their perspective it has to be worth a punt. I'm sure litigators will be champing at the bit to get stuck into Austin, Craig et al and only too happy to agree a decent deal on fees to land such a juicy case... they'll be fighting over who gets to work on this one at Eversheds...
    I fear this saga, like this comments thread, is going to run and run and run....

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  • It appears that the ex-Halliwells partners have adopted a three stage response strategy:-

    1. Form a circular firing squad;
    2. Err..; and
    3. Whistle dixie.

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  • Just when you think it can't get any worse for Austin he gets hit again. The Salford guys are still asking questions and won't go away and now he has the shed picking over his deeds. You reap what you sow!

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  • Salford still have him listed as Chair of Audit

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  • The email about the time to pay scheme which Legal Business refers to seems to sink Austin. I for one shall be reporting him to the SRA.

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  • Legal Business want £50 for a single issue - I'm interested but not THAT interested.

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  • A very interesting read. Unfortunately Austin did not respond when Legal Business asked him to comment. Perhaps he has learnt his lesson or perhaps his new partners have told him not to embarass himself or them by coming out with more socks off tripe. He has "put a sock in it" and lost his shirt!

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  • So what would happen if the Spinningfields deal was found to be a breach of trust? Could it be unwound? Would that give the FSMs a tracing action against the FMs? How would that affect the bank's lending? And the personal practice loans?

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  • Ah Ian Austin....why am i not surprised. We are talking about the man who was asked by costs draftsmen why he was trying to recover the cost of buying a client a wedding present together with the interest for the whole balance of his barlcaycard that month!!
    Seems his fraudulent ways of shafting his clients over ten years ago were cultivated and made to flourish.

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  • Does anybody know whether the SRA is looking at this guy? The story in Legal Business around the HMRC time to pay scheme paints him in a very poor light.

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  • On past performance, most of the legal media should have received threatening letters etc from Ian - so what's changed? Fair comment perhaps?

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  • Difficult to defend your reputation when your bungling management has caused the biggest law firm failure the country has ever seen. The firm was in a great position when he took over and he made a complete mess of managing the firm. Extremely telling that he did not join his former partners at one of the new LLP's which were set up when Halliwells wip, debt book and shamed equity partners were hawked around the market. It seems even those who voted him into the managing partner role in the first place turned their backs on him. Suppose its hard to remain friends when you have lost hundreds of thousands on the back of Austin managing the firm into administration.

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  • The Administrators will be able to sell tickets for the litigation...

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  • Austin has dragged some of his casework from Halliwells over to Heatons. Some of you will be interested to learn that he is currently being instructed by Salford University to pursue a libel claim.
    Lets just say it will make for a very interesting case.

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  • Who needs tickets when you get it all for free right here?

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  • Now it all becomes clear...
    Halliwells LLP (in Administration) is the registered proprietor of the UK trade mark for..."Board Protect".
    It could come in handy.

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  • How can a business lock in women returning from maternity leave (the paltry extra non-statutory bunce had to be repaid if you left within a certain time of your return) but fail to lockin the (mostly male) equity partners who trousered the millions

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  • So the chair of audit at Salford is also the instructed solicitor? How does that work when it comes to approving bills? How much in fees has the university paid to the firms he has worked for?
    Have I misunderstood this?

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  • That is correct - the Chair of Audit (Austin) is also the instructed solicitor. Theoretically that is perfectly legal providing the University's Board of Governors have authorised it. However, since the process was begun on 24th August (curiously, within a week or so of the Private Eye article going to press), and the Board of Governors do not meet at all over the summer, I at least would be interested to know who authorised the University to instruct him.
    Unless, of course, he turned out to be doing the work for free as a result of wounded pride over the article in the Eye. Rather an amusing though.
    As for your other question - Salford University have refused to answer a Freedom of Information request about how much money has been thrown at Halliwells, instead choosing to describe the requestor as "vexatious" (i.e. the same thing they've done for a vast number of FoI requests about their expenses).

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  • When we get to 300 comments, which must be a record, will The Lawyer print a commemorative edition of all of them and present them to Mr Austin? He could keep it next to his 2006 Management Partner of the Year award.

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  • Are you serious - you're right there is a potential conflict of interest but clearly you've forgotten that those kind of things don't usually apply to your average grand singe du nord and its many interests

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  • You've got to admire these guys, number of whom I have seen over the years.As with failed football managers they always seems to get the publicity And another big job elsewhere .

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  • I hear all the partners and ex partners have received love letters from the Administrator suggesting multiple claims will be brought against the partners. The actions of Austin, his decisions, his running of the firm, his emails, his much loved wildly optimistic projections are all being scrutinised. The nightmare just keeps getting worse!

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  • The Legal Business article suggests that the LLP deed was secretly changed so that the equity partners could take the incentive paid by the Landlord. This lot deserve everything that is coming to them.

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  • Ian must be a worried man now the Administrator has written to him. The reverse premium, the sale of HLI, the money paid to 24/7, the expenses account and the HMRC time to pay scheme are all being closely looked into. No doubt the Administrator will wish to interview former colleagues and I think the comments appearing on this page give some indication of where that will lead.

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  • It is a shame that Ian did not comment on the Rest In Pieces article in Legal Business. Surely it is time somebody got another interview with him so that he can comment on all of the new revelations which have come out. It would also be good to get his view on the Administrators letter. If Ian has been gagged then how about one of those partners who went around suggesting the firm was in a great financial position when in fact it was going bust.

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  • A bit of Austin Trivia - his middle name is Dafydd. Who knew?
    I read through a couple of witness statements he composed in relation to the libel case he's been instructed to pursue by Salford University.
    In my opinion, he's not a terribly good litigator as he appears to have overlooked some important case law in drafting his submissions to the High Court. I can understand in light of this why those at Halliwells might have lost confidence in him. Finally got hold of the Legal Business article, and I agree with others that it is very damning. Looking forward to watching the claims progress against Austin and the other Equity Partners.

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  • You gave your life to that practice?
    Mmm, perhaps its now time to stump up some cash ...

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  • The administrator already has contacted others - a multi page questionnaire was sent to all former Halliwells partners last month, asking inter alia pointed questions about the sharing of accounts information and changes in the LLP deed.

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  • I see Heatons' website says "The Litigation team is headed by Mark Beech." Has Austin been demoted already? Maybe Matt Fleetwood has been reading these comments after all....

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