Network of law firms reeling from HMRC liquidation petition | New

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A network of law firms employing more than 650 people say it will survive a winding-up petition from HM Revenue & Customs. The Metamorph Law executive said the company is “working to work through the issues” and will continue to grow the brand – albeit with several as-yet-unspecified changes.

It was reported last week that the group, including North West multi-office firm Linder Myers Solicitors, is the subject of a liquidation petition. This followed a report last month that Metamorph failed to pay its staff on time for two consecutive months.

Tony Stockdale, the group’s executive chairman, declined to be interviewed by the Gazette but issued a statement regarding the liquidation petition. “We are working to resolve the issues with HMRC and are very confident of success,” he said. “In addition, we have a group of shareholders and a management team who support us and remain committed to our strategy.

“Having said that, the action by HMRC came as a shock to everyone. Accordingly, we will be making a number of changes in the business to avoid a repeat.

An HMRC spokesperson declined to comment on individual cases, but added: “We take a supportive approach to dealing with customers who have tax debts and only file liquidation requests once we have exhausted all other options, in order to protect taxpayers’ money.’

Metamorph has taken a circuitous and sometimes difficult path to its current incarnation, which is a network of 15 offices largely formed by taking over other companies or parts of other companies’ businesses.

It was created as an alternative business structure through a joint venture with Assure Law with an initial £4m war chest made available to buy up to 60 businesses.

Since then, he has steadily acquired legal businesses, sometimes through pre-pack administration deals, and allowed them to remain in practice under their own brands. His collection includes Knight Polson Solicitors, Parott & Coales, SLC Solicitors and Verisona Law. The company also owns QualitySolicitors. Acquisition activity continued this year until July, when Metamorph bought Bedfordshire company Knowles Benning.

MLL Limited, the parent company, is more than three months late in filing its accounts for the year 2020/21. Its latest set of published accounts, covering the 18 months to June 30, 2020, show the business recorded an overall loss of £2.1million in the period, despite turnover which has more than tripled to £16.4million. The company had assets worth £11.2m but owed its creditors nearly £11.6m in one year. Covid-19 is said to have had a “mixed impact” on the group, with areas such as trusts and probate and family increasing demand, but slowing courts have reduced its ability to settle cases.

The directors have received a letter of support from Metamorph Group Limited, the ultimate parent company, confirming their intention to continue providing support for at least another year.

*Please note: Metamorph and its holding company have no connection with Birmingham firm Merit Legal Limited, which has been in business since 2015 as Merit Legal Solicitors and MLL.

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