Buss Murton completes pre-packed administration

Tunbridge Wells firm Buss Murton, which has been trading under a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) since November, has completed a pre-packed administration.

The firm faced near-collapse after ambitious  growth plans laid down by a previous management team left it saddled with debts of more than £3m.

In November last year senior partner Alan Williams told The Lawyer that the firm’s problems had stemmed from “bad decisions” in the 1990s that had created a high level of debt.

“The hope had been within the firm that it would be able to trade out of the situation. What we realised in the last year was that was unlikely to be the case,” he said at that time (17 November 2008).

Today, Williams said that the firm’s financial problems had been compounded by the recession. “The increasingly tough trading conditions meant the firm was facing collapse with the loss of jobs and creating serious issues for our existing clients,” he said.  

The CVA scheme had enabled the firm to restructure its debt and the pre-packed administration was followed by an immediate management buy-in.  

Chief executive Stuart Burnop, a former insolvency accountant, has been made an equity partner and will lead the firm, now known as Buss Murton Law, along with Williams, who will remain as senior partner.

Burnop and Williams are now the only two equity partners in the firm. Former equity partners Corinne Browne and Robert Sedgwick are now consultants.

The new firm expects to turn over more than £3m in the first financial year under its new structure and will have six partners, 19 lawyers and a total staff of 51.

In terms of headcount, the new firm is smaller than the one that went into CVA, which had seven partners, 20 lawyers and a staff base of 70.