BATH firm Macfarlane Guy is to break up in a three-way split this month after merger talks with a Bristol practice failed at the eleventh hour.

The firm’s break up has been prompted by Bristol practice Sansbury Hill’s unexpected decision to pull out of the talks at a late stage, according to senior partner Michael Guy.

He said the partners had decided to go their separate ways following the breakdown of the talks.

Guy and an assistant, who both specialise in insurance work, will be joining Sansbury Hill; plaintiff personal injury lawyer Mark Rivers and his assistant are to join Bristol firm Lyons Davidson; and the rest of the staff, including commercial litigation partner Nick Watson, are joining forces with Bath firm Stone King & Wardle, in a move which is being described as a merger.

Guy, who founded Macfarlane Guy, said the merger talks and his subsequent move to Bristol were prompted by the fact that insurance work “was focused in Bristol rather than Bath”. He added: “Although it was Sansbury Hill who approached us, we had been looking to relocate in Bristol or merge with a firm there.”

The lawyers joining Stone King & Wardle are private client and general commercial law specialists. The firm will be called Stone King & Wardle incorporating Macfarlane Guy.