Cobbetts litigation team to join Walker Morris following DWF pre-pack deal

Cobbetts’ finance litigation practice and debt recovery team Incasso will not join the rest of the firm when it moves to fellow Manchester firm DWF as part of a pre-pack administration deal, with the former opting instead to join Walker Morris while the debt recovery team is seeking a new home.

Andrew Leaitherland
Andrew Leaitherland

Cobbetts partner Andrew Bennett and his finance litigation team will not move over to DWF, which acquired Cobbetts in a pre-pack deal yesterday (6 February 2013), due to potential conflicts following DWF’s merger with professional indemnity specialists Fishburns (18 January 2013), says the firm. Bennett’s finance litigation team will instead move to Walker Morris.

Walker Morris also had a role acting in Cobbetts’ administration. The firm, led by restructuring partner Simon Clark, advised Cobbetts’ bank Lloyds on the firm’s lending position. Walker Morris managing partner Ian Gilbert said that the firm’s advice to Lloyds, and its acquisition of the Cobbetts team were discrete events that had no bearing on each other. He added that the firm did not expect to make any redundancies following the acquisition of Cobbetts’ finance litigation team.

DWF will also not acquire Cobbetts’ debt recovery team, Incasso. According to a statement from the firm, DWF is “supporting those involved including assisting in the day to day management of client affairs for the immediate future, whilst the long term direction of the business can be determined.”

Walker Morris will inherit a team of 27, including two partners, as part of the deal.

DWF has said that it will honour all Cobbetts’ training contracts – including those who had agreed positions but were yet to start at the firm – as part of the pre-pack deal.

In a statement, DWF managing partner Andrew Leaitherland, said: “Both firms agreed that this was the best route forward and so the process was a smooth one, with the two parties working towards the same outcome. This is the latest milestone in what is already proving to be a positive year for DWF and one that continues along our clearly defined plan of strategic growth. It’s crucial that when exploring deals such as these we are certain that the move is the right one, and we’re extremely confident that this is the case, with it further reinforcing our sector expertise,  business knowledge and our ability to best serve our clients’ business interests.”

Cobbetts had 491 staff in total, 72 of which were partners, based across Birmingham, Leeds, London and Manchester.