Dickinson Dees axes 17 from Northern Rock team

Credit crunch hits; firm to hive off volume business post-Clementi

Dickinson Dees axes 17 from Northern Rock team” />Newcastle’s largest firm Dickinson Dees has made 17 staff in its mortgages business redundant in reaction to the credit crunch and the sorrows of its biggest client Northern Rock as it gears up to reshape the business in the wake of the Legal Services Act.

Seventeen paralegal and clerical staff, making up around 10 per cent of Dickinsons’ mortgages and remortgages volume business, are leaving the practice after some major lenders pulled out of the remortgages market.

Dickinsons senior partner Robin Bloom said: “One of the duties in the volume industry is to be able to react. You have to be able to hire quickly – and release quickly.”

One of the volume business’s largest clients and the UK’s largest mortgage lender is beleaguered Newcastle neighbour Northern Rock, but the remortgages industry in general has seen troubles, said partner Nigel Emmerson, who heads the volume business.

“We’ve had a big mortgage broker operation that’s laid off 20 people and another big one in the Midlands that’s gone completely into receivership,” said Emmerson.

Dickinsons’ mortgages and remortgages practice contributes around 10 per cent of the firm’s £56m turnover and handles high-volume commoditised legal services for major lenders, corporate estate agents and a large section of the independent estate agent market in the region.

The volume business is run by Emmerson and partner Peter Fenwick and employs around 180 staff, of whom 20 are qualified solicitors.

The volume business is to be rebranded as an independent entity and will be relaunched as a fully owned subsidiary of Dickinsons by next spring. The aim will be to capitalise on the Legal Services Act.

The business intends to diversify and enter the potentially lucrative market of Home Information Packs, which will be a compulsory requirement for all marketed property sales in England and Wales from 14 December 2007.