Merricks’ fee-collection chaos leaves staff waiting for wages

Due to a serious cash flow problem, national firm Merricks has been unable to pay assistants and other senior staff on time for months

The 18-partner firm, which has been forced to delay salary payments by up to a week, instructed a major accountancy firm’s insolvency department to prepare reports on the business for Barclays, its main lending bank.
The firm’s specialisation in claimant personal injury (PI) is one major problem, as it often has to wait up to two years to recover fees.
Merricks recently discussed trying to secure refinancing from Barclays or another bank to see it through the cash flow crisis, but has decided against this.
Merricks chairman Anth-ony Sheppard said he was optimistic that changes in the law on PI would soon make the recovery of bills quicker.
He said the firm has become better at paying senior staff on time in the last three months and that secretaries have not been affected.
At the same time, The Lawyer can reveal that Merricks is closing its Ipswich office, resulting in a number of redundancies, although all fee-earners will be relocated. The firm has also just seen the departure of its chief executive Michael Lambert after reorganising the firm into three core areas: litigation, property and company commercial.
Sheppard said that Lambert, a non-lawyer, was retained to see Merricks thr-ough its conversion to a limited-liability partnership and last year’s merger with West End firm Fairmays, but that his role became less necessary after the reorganisation.
“We now have three heads of department who manage the firm’s core areas,” he said.