Two UK firms fall victim to the crunch

The economic crisis has claimed its first two substantial victims in the British legal sector.

Two UK firms fall victim to the crunchThe economic crisis has claimed its first two substantial victims in the legal sector.

London firm Saunders Solicitors, which had 10 partners and a turnover of £2.5m, was wound up in October by administrators BDO Stoy Hayward, drafting in a team of restructuring lawyers from DLA Piper.

Saunders was put into administration in October after being unable to meet a large lease commitment.

Meanwhile, Tunbridge Wells-based Buss Murton, with a turnover of around £3.7m (see profile 19 May 2008), has been saved from administration by entering into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with its creditors, in the process writing off around £1m of debt.

Buss Murton senior partner Alan Williams said the firm’s problems stemmed from “bad decisions” in the 1990s that had created a high level of debt.

The eight partner firm had invested heavily in personal injury in the 1990s, including no-win no-fee work. Much of its debt stems from this period. The firm also acquired the operations of BM Law, a Dartford firm in administration, in 2007.

He added: “The hope had been within the firm that it would be able to trade out of the situation. What we realised in the last year was that was unlikely to be the case.”

A CVA, like the one employed by Buss Murton, is an arrangement between an insolvent company and its creditors over the payment of debts. It allows an organisation to keep trading with a timetable for repayment, as well as possibly writing off a portion of the debt.