Fishburn Morgan Cole bails out of its three-year merger

Morgan Cole and Fishburn Boxer have admitted defeat in their efforts to make their 1999 merger work and have opted to go their separate ways

The niche London insurance practice, which has been trading as Fishburn Morgan Cole, will regain its independence, despite Morgan Cole partners stumping up considerable funds to cover costs at the time of the merger.

The investment included the relocation and refurbishment costs involved in moving part of the Fishburns' practice from The Strand to offices at St Mary Axe. A source close to the firm said the move imposed a “significant burden on the firm as a whole”.

Morgan Cole chairman John Cole told The Lawyer: “It wasn't an issue as far as I was concerned. We had a central pot [of Morgan Cole and Fishburns money].” But he agreed that the greater proportion of the investment had been made by Morgan Cole's partners, since it was the larger of the two partnerships.

Although Fishburns' 12 partners joined the Morgan Cole lockstep, their practice was never fully integrated with Morgan Cole's. The decision to split followed talks which began in July this year.

A joint statement said: “The aspirations of each party have not been fully realised, and each has formed the view that their interests would be better served by demerging.”

Morgan Cole's profits per equity partner were £135,000 for 2001-02. Both Cole and Fishburns senior partner John Cayton said they hoped to raise profitability at their respective firms following the split.

Cayton said: “We hope to see improved profit from lower support services costs.”

Last year, four of Morgan Cole's Swansea partners left to form their own property practice, Morgan LaRoche. They were later joined by five other lawyers from the firm.