Merricks, which has recently elected to dissolve the partnership, has been put into administration.
On Thursday 8 April, the same day Merricks’ remaining nine partners elected to formally dissolve, a court order was granted by Mr Justice Lewison and the firm ceased trading.
Nick O’Reilly and Jonathan Birch of accountancy firm Numerica were appointed joint administrators, advised by Matthew Arnold & Baldwin.
It is believed to be the first time a UK limited liability partnership law firm has gone into administration. The practice will be carved into three and disposed to separate firms.
Davies Lavery has taken on one of the firm’s two Chelmsford offices, comprising two partners – chairman Anthony Sheppard and insurance litigation partner Andrew Hunn – and a number of lawyers. AWB Solicitors has won the second Chelmsford office and the London practice, while the Birmingham office has been sold off to an unnamed Birmingham firm.
Last year, The Lawyer revealed that Merricks was suffering cash flow problems, forcing it to stagger wage payments. Later, the firm’s London office suffered the loss of a six fee-earner corporate team to Fladgate Fielder. In January this year, the firm’s 10-month old merger with London’s Fairmays sank, with the departure of four legacy Fairmays partners.
Merricks converted to a limited liability partnership in December 2001, a move that required a number of partners and senior associates to stump up between £50,000 and £150,000 to boost the firm’s capital base.