Bleak future for Peel House as merger talks fall through

Merger negotiations between two Liverpool chambers have collapsed, following more departures from struggling set Peel House Chambers.

Two of Peels' senior civil practitioners, Peter Gregory and James McKeon, have made applications to become members of what will be the largest set in the North West, the product of the merger between Martin's Building and The Corn Exchange, which was revealed exclusively by The Lawyer last week.

A decision on whether they will be accepted as new tenants is expected shortly but initial soundings are very positive.

Derby Square, which was the other set involved in the talks, has now pulled out of the deal, leaving Peel House with a troubled future.

It is believed that Head of chambers at Derby Square, Simon Newton, circulated a letter to all the remaining members of Peel House informing them that the deal was off.

The departures would bring the number of barristers that Peel House has lost this year to 19, leaving only the bare bones of a set that was once the most powerful in Liverpool.

Nigel Gilmour, head of chambers, said the situation was fluid, but having allowed the ex-members to walk away free of future liabilities, he will now be left with overheads on the remainder of the lease, outstanding financial liabilities and dilapidations, with only eight or 10 members left to pay for them.

In a separate development, Donal McGuire, a tenant at The Corn Exchange, has been disbarred for six months for failing to file a notice of appeal until after his client had been released from prison after serving three months of a six-month sentence. It is thought the disbarment will not affect The Corn Exchange's merger deal with Martin's Building.