Merricks-Fairmays tie-up founders after ten months

By Naomi Rovnick
National firm Merricks’ merger with London firm Fairmays last March has all but collapsed after just 10 months.

Four legacy Fairmays partners have left the firm, leaving Merricks with just one partner in London.

Three legacy Fairmays property partners – Nick Plaut, John Clemenson and Alison Gill – have joined the London office of South of England firm Horsey Lightly Flynn as consultants.

Another former Fairmays partner, commercial litigator Sabina Rinker, has joined Merricks’ former national litigation head and legacy Fairmays partner Tony Guise at his new firm Guise Solicitors.

This follows the departure last October of Middle East specialist partners Ella Leonard and Sunil Sheth, with four assistants, to Fladgate Fielder.

However, Merricks re-mains committed to London and is moving out of the Fair-mays office in St James’s to a new base in Holborn with its one remaining partner Robert Brooks and seven solicitors.

Merricks, which is headquartered in Chelmsford, still has offices in Birmingham and Manchester, but was forced to close its Ipswich office last summer.

In August it emerged that Merricks, which has a large claimant personal injury business, was facing a cash-flow problem, which meant staff had not been paid on time for months (The Lawyer, 4 August 2003).

The firm instructed a major accountancy firm’s insolvency department to prepare reports on the business for Barclays, its main lending bank, and
has since addressed the problem by staggering staff payments in a reverse hierarchy (The Lawyer, 20 October 2003).

Merricks converted to a limited-liability partnership in December 2001, a move that required a number of partners and senior associates to invest between £50,000 and £150,000 to increase the firm’s capital base (The Lawyer, 3 December 2001).

A spokesperson for Merricks confirmed the number of lawyers at the London office, but declined to comment further.