London firms call a halt to merger talks

Merger talks between Bailey Shaw & Gillet and Wedlake Bell have broken down.

The two medium-sized London firms had confirmed they were in talks last November.

Now, in a joint statement, Mark Hodgkinson, the Baileys partner in charge of negotiating the merger, and Bob Salter, managing partner at Wedlake Bell, have announced a halt to the talks. “Both firms identified matters that needed to be resolved before talks could continue,” they said.

Neither party has ruled out the possibility of a resumption of talks. But Bob Salter said: “We are not in merger discussions with anybody, there is no need for us to be.”

The announcement coincides with the decision of Laurence Kingswood, a partner with Baileys for 18 years, to leave the firm to join niche practice Bracher Rawlins, founded in April 1994 by two ex-Baileys partners. “It is much more exciting to be at a smaller firm and nice to be back in control,” he said. “There were a number of decisions made at Baileys that I did not agree with.”

He gave notice in September 1996 after the firm had gone through a number of changes including the closure of its matrimonial department.