Private client tax sole practitioner Patrick Hurd has joined forces with 11-partner accountants Hughes Allen in what is believed to be the first one-stop-shop alliance between an existing law practice and an accountancy firm.

Patrick Hurd's firm Wycombe Hurd & Co, which employs a qualified accountant, will move into an office alongside Hughes Allen's existing London premises.

He said Hughes Allen had first asked him to join as an in-house lawyer.

But he wanted to maintain his own independence because eight years ago he had worked in-house at accountancy firm Pannell Kerr Forster. Instead Hurd persuaded the firm to enter into an alliance with his practice.

Hurd said Hughes Allen had already invited him to advise a German businessman client on trusts.

“It turned out that what he really wanted was a shareholders agreement,” said Hurd. This is work that Wycombe Hurd will pick up.

But Hurd, who advises owner-proprietors of medium-sized international businesses, admitted he was almost certain to lose work from other accountancy firms which had, until now, referred clients to him.

The arrangement will not be exclusive and referral fees will not be paid on either side, said Hurd.

Which? versus the profession

1 October 1995: Which? publishes a survey of 80 law firms in which it attacks the cost, service and advice of solicitors.

10 October 1995: The Consumers' Association, publisher of Which?, threatens to sue the Law Society over its attempts to discredit the survey.

28 May 1996: The Consumers' Association reveals that 20 per cent of 381 firms surveyed had no complaints procedure, with 62 per cent failing to tell their clients of the existence of the then Solicitors Complaints Bureau.

8 October 1996: Which? claims solicitors' drafting skills are no better than those of banks and life insurers, sparking another row with the Law Society.

22 October 1996: Which? apologises in the High Court for wrongly claiming in its 1995 survey that Shoosmiths & Harrison had given no information about costs before a meeting.

8 April 1997: In a survey of 1,892 people, Which? claims consumers “feared solicitors' costs”.

2 October 1997: Which? survey attacks the quality of legal advice, although this time only two firms are specifically accused of giving bad service compared with six in 1995.