M&S Financial Services plans to take debt recovery in-house

Marks & Spencer Financial Services is conducting a massive overhaul of its legal department in an attempt to retain more work in-house.

The department currently houses teams focusing on just litigation and compliance.

However, Peter Green, solicitor and company secretary at M&S Financial Services, says the department is setting up a new debt recovery capability.

At present, the company has a stand-alone recovery department which does not come under Green’s remit.

Green – who joined the company from the legal department at Sun Bank, the UK subsidiary of Sun Life of Canada, six months ago – says: “We are hoping to spin it off from other areas of collection work.

“We want to add value to the department, to provide speed and accuracy of advice.”

The team will be made up of eight people, increasing to 12 over time.

At present, Eversheds takes on some recovery work for the company, but head of recovery at the firm’s Leeds office, Peter Wordsworth, says it is not receiving any debt recovery work at the moment.

But he adds: “I have been over to speak to M&S Financial Services about it. We are hoping to have a bit of work.”

Green says Eversheds is only used for specialised cases and would not notice any change in its workload.

“We are very comfortable with the level of work we are getting from Eversheds,” he adds.

Eversheds is M&S Financial Services’ main law firm throughout the UK and provides advice on a number of areas including employment.

The company also uses Manches on litigation and some business to business internet work.

In November last year, Peter Stevens, IT and internet partner at Manches, acted for the company on setting a joint venture with OneSwoop, a website specialising in selling cars, for which M&S Financial Services offers financing.

At present Green is the only qualified lawyer in the department, but that should change in May when the two trainees the company employs qualify.

M&S Financial Services was established 15 years ago and provides pensions, unit trusts and loans.

The company is run separately from the retail arm, but it contributed £46.1m to the group’s total operating profits in its half yearly results in November last year.