Challinors sale completes but questions remain

After several weeks of speculation the sale of troubled Midlands firm Challinors has finally completed, with parts the embattled business sold off to no fewer than 14 firms. Coincidentally this is also the number of partners at Challinors, although not every buyer has picked up a partner.

Among those to pounce on a piece of the Challinors pie were top 100 firms Clarke Willmott, Shoosmiths and Weightmans. None took a large group, with Shoosmiths’ eight-strong clinical negligence team the biggest. Weightmans chose to launch a family team in Birmingham with its three-lawyer acquisition, and Clarke Willmott also boosted its presence in Birmingham with a small private client and litigation team.

There have been casualties, however. The administration process led to 46 redundancies, although many of those affected have found new jobs with the firms acquiring chunks of the business.

As the dust settles on the remains of Challinors, the debate is still raging over whether or not the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) ought to have intervened earlier in the practice. Last week an SRA spokesperson commented on, noting that live client matters were being transferred to the buyers and client money was protected.

But as Challinors’ administrators at RSM Tenon – itself in administration, and sold last week to Baker Tilly – finish off their work, questions are being asked over whether more firms will follow, and whether the SRA can afford and is best-placed to deal with those in difficulty. Arguably, it is a question that will never be answered satisfactorily.

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