Wilsons transfers Bristol office to Michelmores

Wilsons is to offload its Bristol office to Michelmores following a protracted legal spat with two partners at the base.

The deal will see Michelmores enter the top 100 UK firms by turnover, with an additional £3m expected to bring its turnover figure to £25m by the end of 2012/13.

The firm will acquire partners Ben Sharples and Miles Farren as part of the deal. Both are former Burges Salmon partners who quit the firm alongside Peter Williams and Vivienne Williams in November 2010 to launch agricultural boutique Ebery Williams (5 April 2011).

Wilsons launched in the city in April 2011 following the acquisition of the firm and the four partners. However, according to RollonFriday Williams and Williams were put on gardening leave before their probationary period was over, sparking a court battle over their exit.

According to a High Court judge, Wilsons was concerned that Mr Williams would “leave [Wilsons] and intended, if they could do so by negotiations or otherwise, to take the whole of the Bristol office, its practice, goodwill, work in progress and staff into a new firm separate from Wilsons”.

The partners, in return, had wanted the court to rule that they were allowed to return to work.

After a protracted fight the court eventually ruled in favour of the firm and the pair went to Veale Wasbrough Vizards as consultants before joining Michelmores earlier this month.

They will now be joined by Sharples and Farren in the Bristol base. According to a Michelmores spokesman Mr Williams continues legal negotiations with Wilsons, although Michelmores has no official involvement in the negotiations.

Michelmores managing partner Malcolm Dickinson said the firm had long mooted plans to open in the city, adding: “The Wilsons team provided us with an opportunity not only to greatly strengthen our agricultural practice but to acquire an ongoing business in a strategically significant location.”

He continued: “The agricultural business has provided the platform for this move but it’s clear that we can grow our business in Bristol across other practice areas and sectors.”