Perth merger goes ahead

The Perth office of Australian firm Freehill Hollingdale & Page has finally merged with Perth firm Parker & Parker following the resolution of a major conflict of interest.

The merger took place on 1 September, nearly a year after talks between the two firms commenced.

Marketing manager Mike Godrich said the merger will “position us very strongly in the marketplace. There is a strong synergy between the two firms.”

The firms had announced their intention to merge earlier this year but were unable to do so because of ongoing litigation between clients Bell Resources and Westpac Bank.

An onlooker said: “Because of the size of that litigation they could not be released from their conflict obligations.”

It is understood that one of the partners involved in the litigation had to leave the firm to ensure that the firm kept the litigation and was able to merge.

The merged firm, called Freehill Hollingdale & Page, will be the largest firm in Australia with 196 partners.

However, it will operate as different partnerships throughout thewhole of the country.

The two Perth firms have 25 partners each. About 30 support staff have been made redundant, but it is understood that the firms have undertaken not to make any partners redundant for at least two years.

Parkers, formerly a member of the Allens Arthur Robinson law firm grouping, entered into talks with Freehills a month after Arthur Robinson opened in Perth last October, bringing it into direct competition with Parkers.

Parkers marketing manager Mike Godrich said: “The Allens Arthur Robinson group was a loose association of firms practising under their own names. We wanted to be part of a national firm.”

Stephen Macliver, managing partner of Minter Ellison in Perth, said the merger “creates a firm that is too large and potentially impersonal, and which cannot be sustained in Perth. Our firm therefore regards it as a significant opportunity for us.”

The merged firms will operate from the Parkers offices in Perth, using the Freehills information technology systems.