Ex-Halliwells partners face court date over rent

A group of former Halliwells partners is facing a High Court showdown after the landlord of the failed firm’s former headquarters filed a claim for £224,000.

St James’s Court (Manchester) claims Halliwells defaulted on rent and insurance due on 24 June 2010, the day the firm filed notice of its intention to appoint an administrator. While the firm no longer occupied the building, it was tied into a 25-year lease signed in ­February 1997, with annual rent fixed at £745,000.

The landlord has filed a claim against Halliwells’ ­former senior partner Alec Craig, along with ex-partners Paul Thomas, Matthew Wightman and Christopher Phillips. Although Wightman and Phillips were not named on the original lease, they took over responsibility from Roger Lancaster and Geoffrey Marks when the ­latter two partners retired.

When Halliwells became an LLP in 2004 the claimant agreed to liability passing to the partnership on condition that the defendants signed an Authorised Guarantee Agreement.

Halliwells went into administration on 20 July. It is understood that dozens of members of the LLP subsequently resigned from the partnership, which would in effect prevent them from being chased for unpaid rent.

An additional £14.1m is owed to unsecured creditors ranging from the College of Law to St John’s Ambulance (The Lawyer, 20 September).

Eversheds senior ­associate Nicola Buchanan is ­representing the landlord. It is not known whether the defendants have instructed counsel.

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