Vizards in turmoil as equity partnership splits in two

City insurance specialist Vizards was in disarray last week after its eight equity partners split into two camps, both of which went on to claim they had secured the backing of the bulk of the rest of the firm.

The split happened during a partners' meeting on 22 October, when four of the equity partners suddenly resigned from the partnership without warning.

One of the two groups, led by medical negligence and personal injury litigation partner Richard Foster, has already announced its intention to re-form under the name Vizard Oldham.

The other group, led by the firm's existing senior partner, Martin Staples, who is believed to have led the resignations, is keeping its plans under wraps.

Staples said of the split: “We simply disagreed over where we want to go.”

But he described a claim by the Vizard Oldham group that it was retaining 15 of the firm's 29 partners as “absolute nonsense”.

He added that the two groups had completely different client bases and therefore different objectives.

Foster said that the first thing he knew about the other group's plans was at the partners' meeting, when the four partners resigned.

Both sides, however, are in agreement that the firm's split was not related to its fin-ancial performance. Last year it recorded average profits per partner of over £250,000.

Bizarrely both Foster and Staples will act as joint senior partners of Vizards until the end of the year.

The split will not officially take place until 1 May next year.

Vizards, which celebrated its bicentenary last year, is the sixth small to medium-sized firm to break up in the last three months.

In that time Frere Chol-meley Bischoff, Stones Porter, Forsyte Saunders Kerman, Franks Charlesly, and Manchester firm Slater Heelis, have all lost their independence in various ways.