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PANNONE Napier - the joint venture partnership set up by former Law Society president Rodger Pannone and leading personal injury lawyer Michael Napier - has dissolved.
The specialist multi-party action firm, which brought in 50 partners from Sheffield's Irwin Mitchell and Manchester-based Pannone & Partners, was the first of its kind when it was formed in 1986.
Pannones' head of personal injury litigation Frank Patterson says plans to dissolve the partnership were made during the past year, and there is "absolutely no causal link" between the departures of top Pannone & Partners staff during the past year and the closure of the firm.
He says the dissolution was brought on largely because of the excessive administrative costs involved in running the joint venture.
Costs included a large bill for professional indemnity cover, with partners paying fees twice to cover themselves with their individual firms and for Pannone Napier.
Patterson, speaking in the absence of Rodger Pannone who was on leave last week, says the cover fee for Pannone Napier alone totalled "in excess of u100,000" each year.
He says the two firms will now operate as separate entities. "Each side of the firm - Manchester and Sheffield - has got a huge amount of experience in dealing with disaster claims. That really obviates the need to be practising jointly," he says.
Napier says the closure is "entirely amicable" and was the result of a "business decision based on the obvious need for a reorganisation".
He refutes claims that the partnership dissolved because of a lack of disaster claims, saying the practice also had a strong product liability arm.
"Thank goodness there haven't been any disasters for several years after the terrible spate in the late 1980s," says Napier.
"But there has been no lack of group actions for Pannone Napier to conduct. The lack of disasters has not been a major factor in this," says Napier.
Davies Arnold Cooper's senior partner David McIntosh says he is "saddened by the fact that such a top-class combination of talents is disappearing".
"The Rodger Pannone and Michael Napier idea played a significant part in changing the complexion of UK plaintiff law firms and one can only hope that the talents which once constituted Pannone Napier will be as effective individually elsewhere - something I somehow doubt."