South London practice 'first' to use new company rescue scheme

LONDON two-office firm Abbot Cresswell has been put into administration, the status under insolvency law often referred to as a “company rescue”.

The firm is believed to be the first solicitors' practice to take advantage of new insolvency law allowing partnerships to do so, avoiding the often lengthy process of Individual Voluntary Arrangements for all the individual partners in a firm.

Francis Abbot, senior partner, says: “It's a positive move, allowing a reconstruction of the firm to its best advantage.”

The firm's four partners appointed the administrators themselves, Abbot says.

Joint administrators Iain Allan and Peter Mills, partners at London-based accountants and investment managers Smith & Williamson have taken over the financial running of the practice.

Abbot Cresswell's financial difficulties are partly due to a heavy reliance on conveyancing work which was hit badly by the recession, they say.

Allan says the administration process “ring-fences a practice from its creditors for a three-month period, which can be extended on application to the court”.

He says this allows the administrators “time to investigate the possibility of selling the business or to effect an orderly run-down of its affairs. The procedure therefore protects the firm's clients' interests and should ensure a better return to all classes of creditors.”

The firm sprang from a merger around 1990 between Clapham two-partner family firm Abbot Thomas & Co and four-partner Cresswell & Cooles Lewis & Co, which had offices Clapham, East Sheen and Tooting.