Hammonds liability team escapes sale to go solo

Hammond Suddards' liability insurance litigation department is striking out on its own – avoiding being sold-off to the highest bidder.

The firm, which is called Praxis Partners, was going to be sold after Hammonds brought in accountants Grant Thornton to co-ordinate a purchase (The Lawyer, 3 April).

Jane Dixon, one of three partners at Praxis, says the lawyers involved had made it clear that they did not want the liability insurance litigation practice to be sold off.

She says: “The practice did not fit with the corporate and cost practice and we wanted to focus on our business.

“We made it clear to the executive that we did not want it selling the practice.”

The independent partnership consists of two consultants and three partners, including Andrew McDougall who will head the firm.

The firm will focus on public, employment and motor liability.

John Heller, senior partner at Hammonds, says the firm decided to hive off the department because there was no cross-selling on the work that was handled by it.

On selling the practice, Heller says: “Once we had discussed it with the partners they said they would be delighted to take it.”

At present the practice, which also has 120 lawyers, is still located close to Hammonds' Manchester office, but it is not yet clear when it intends to break away completely.

One source remains cynical about how the practice will survive in the ever tightening insurance market.

He says: “I do not know how they will manage in the long-term without support from the mother ship.”

Paul Large is the third partner to join the independent practice from Hammonds while Peter Metcalf will work as a consultant with Trevor Lewis, who is also deputy chairman at Bradford & Bingley.

KPMG managed the demerger. Addleshaw Booth & Co provided legal advice to Praxis, while the Royal Bank of Scotland arranged banking facilities for the new practice.