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National litigation firm Merricks has lost four partners as it restructures itself into a limited-liability partnership (LLP).
A number of partners and senior associates invested between £50,000-£150,000 each to increase the firm's capital base. Merricks is known as a construction and insurance practice, but following some mishaps, including being thrown off the Axa panel and the demise of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF), it has included property, employment and personal injury. Conveyancing partner Colin Barr left at the beginning of November, followed by construction partner Philip Harris; and last week insurance partners Keith Gaston and Richard Whybrew left suddenly. Equity partner Andrew Hunn said this was because they acted for defunct panel relationships. Gaston's main client was Axa, while Whybrew was a SIF lawyer. They are believed to be setting up a rival firm. It leaves Merricks with 15 partners, but it is also understood that Tim Willis is leaving. Hunn said an LLP was attractive for those looking to invest in the firm. "We've made a number of changes and these require more capital. Therefore, we need new investment." However, a source claimed that it is debt which has forced the firm to become an LLP, which Hunn strongly denied. The changes follow the arrival of a practice manager and a chief executive officer 12 months ago.