Merged firms split after 29-day honeymoon

TWO Manchester firms have demerged in a dramatic split which came just 29 days after they originally joined forces.

Donn & Co said it instigated the demerger with Philip Conn & Co after taking counsel's advice on details that emerged after the merger had taken place.

But in a statement, Philip Conn & Co said “neither side could reasonably anticipate their expectation of the other to be fulfilled”.

The merger, announced in February, took effect from 1 March. Under the arrangement, the merged firm, which was known as Donn & Co, had 11 partners, 75 fee earners and a staff of 150.

Both sides had claimed it would be able to offer a wider range of commercial and other niche sector services.

“The way forward is for larger firms specialising in certain areas to work together to offer services of the highest calibre,” Philip Conn & Co's intellectual property partner Ian Morris had told The Lawyer.

Raymond Donn, Donn & Co's senior partner, said it had been approached by its neighbours about a merger and had been impressed by its highly regarded intellectual property department.

He described the demerger as “disappointing” but “unavoidable”.

“We rescinded the agreement to ourselves after receiving advice from our forensic accountants and leading counsel,” he said.

“Fortunately, the firms were still in separate offices being run as separate entities so it has been a clean break.”

In its statement, Philip Conn & Co said: “We consider this arose out of the different nature and attitudes of the two practices, which unfortunately was not apparent until the merger was tried in practice.

“We are sure that both practices will continue to provide first class services to their clients.”