Liverpool set and law firm vie over premises

Andrew Burnyeat reports

EXCHANGE Chambers' plan to expand its Liverpool base may be thwarted by a firm of solicitors.

Exchange shares the Pearl Assurance Building in Derby Square, Liverpool, with Pearl Assurance and solicitors Hill Dickinson Davis Campbell.

Pearl Assurance, the landlord firm, is understood to be planning to move, vacating about a quarter of the first floor.

Exchange, which occupies the rest of the floor, is very interested in the potential extra space. Practice manager Tom Handley says: "We already have a great deal of space and visitors always express surprise at this. But we are committed to a rolling programme of seminars which we run in-house and we devote a large area to this. We can fit 100 people into our seminar room. We could use this space to have more barristers, but the work generated by our seminars justifies the programme.

"We have three pupils coming through and we are taking on another barrister so we will need more space. We already have one barrister in a small room, which will not do long-term. We need his room for more seminar space."

However, Hill Dickinson partner Anne Dobie says: "We are short of space and would be interested in the extra space were Pearl Assurance to move.

"We hear ripples that they are moving, and there are fewer and fewer of their people here all the time. But they have made no approach to us.

"We need the space because we have been steadily expanding for the past three or four years and we now feel that the accommodation we have is too tight. We have already had to move our investigations department to another office in the city.

"If there is a battle with Exchange Chambers over the space, we hope we get it because we really need it."

A spokesman for Pearl Assurance cannot confirm the move, but says: "We understand both the barristers' chambers and the firm of solicitors are interested in our offices."

The building letting agents are Chesterton's of Manchester. The space would fetch approximately u6 to u10.50 per square foot.