Halliwells’ client money fiasco haunts new owners

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  • So THATS why Barlows made up so many partners this year!!

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  • Will ex-Halliwells partners actually sell their holiday homes and pay some bills at last? the circus goes on...!!!! ha. ha

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  • I was under the impression (from reading The Lawyer, I might add) that the successor firms had "ring fenced" the old Halliwells elements in seperate entities (or at least BLG and Gateley had). Presumably then these liabilities are limited to the former Halliwells Partners rather than to the successor firms in general? Could The Lawyer shed some light on this?

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  • looks like Austin will have to sell one of his jags....

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  • So the SRA seems to finally be doing something about this shambles nearly a year since it occurred...

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  • Re Anon @ 5:04pm
    If the SRA actually do something then they'll strike off the partners who ran Halliwells using client money as working capital. That will hurt the successor businesses more than the loss of the c. £500k in issue.
    It seems a bit rich that HBJ is trying to claim the 'black hole' from the administrators ("ongoing contractual discussions") when the people at the heart of HBJ Manchester were in charge of Halliwells at the time the hole was created!

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  • Halliwells used client money to pay humungeous Partners' cars costs, running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
    Has the return to "Ford Fiestas" humbled any of them....

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  • Didn't they do any due diligence?

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  • ref Foolhardy
    Of course not. One of the three deals was done in less than 10 days from 1st phone call to sign off. No due diligence was done.
    The two firms are "polar opposites" by way of culture.
    Its a farce, a tragic consequence of greed and desperation. Its also text book case study for "change management - how not to do it".

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  • The firm was not properly managed. It is obvious that it was not properly managed. Look at what they did. They took £17M out by way of reverse premium on the Spinningfields property and the firm crashed into administration under the weight of debt created by their actions.
    Ian Austin and Alec Craig were the managing and senior partners in control of the firm and they should be called to account.

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  • If the SRA had been dealing with a 4 man firm from Bradford then people would have been struck off by now. Double standards at work. The Halliwells partners ought to be the ones paying back the money rather than the successor firms. It was the Halliwells partners who allowed these things to go on whilst they were at Halliwells and before they moved on to the successor firms.

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  • Is Austin still chair of the Salford university audit committee? Lol
    He doesn't appear to be head of litigation at Heatons anymore.
    What is the SRA going to do with him. On his own admission he was there until the end, working his socks off. An admission which represents a characteristic own goal on his part.

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  • In relation to the comment from "Disgusted", I could not agree more. As a sole practitioner, who used to work in a very large law firm, I have seen the SRA work from both angles. There can be no doubt that the SRA over-regulates small firms and under-regulates big firms. It is a disgrace. Goodness knows how the SRA will cope with the new "Outcomes-focused regulation" coming in in October 2011. If they already run scared of applying their own rule book to large firms, what are they going to do in an even more subjective world?

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  • Pay up and we will forget all about it. Great message to the profession.

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  • I read today on their website that the SDT is prosecuting someone for misleading the police by not telling them that he was an accredited police station representative. If the SDT has the resources to deal with cases such as this, how come it isn't turning over Halliwells?

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  • Where's Wally?
    according to Heaton's website, Wally aka Austin...
    "His commercial reputation lead to his appointment to the Business Leaders Advisory Committee to Manchester City Council for two years and currently he is a member of Salford University Corporate Governance Council and is Chairman of their Audit Committee"
    what an alarming thought for Salford....

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  • Austin is acting for Salford in suing some guy who runs a website called vagrant in the casual ward of a workhouse.

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  • Yep - Austin is "acting" for Salford University in this ridiculous libel case. Austin - himself a property litigator - has instructed a Barrister well known for his expertese in... personal injury and negligence. Does it get better? Well he's still Chair of Audit at the University, which has recently announced it will be making 15% of all staff redundant AND taking out large commercial loans. As Chair of Audit, he also presumably signed off on a hugely expensive lease arrangement for the University's new premises at MediaCityUK (£40,000/week ex. Vat). This whilst the few at the top of the University reward themselves with ever greater riches, chauffeurs, grace-and-favour houses. Does it all sound strangely familiar?

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  • If BLG didn't ringfence the client money shortfall then does that mean Clydes will now pick up the bill?

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  • Client account shortages remain the responsibility of the principals who were in place at the time so the successor firms are in the clear. SRA should go for the former principals, as they usually do.

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