On Thursday of last week, The Law Society Gazette reported that specialist personal injury (PI) claimant firm, Slater and Gordon (S&G), was preparing to make cutbacks at its Birmingham office, only 13-months after having announced that the regional office would be expanding.[i]
As a result of S&G’s disastrous acquisition of Quindell’s (now Watchstone PLC) Professional Services Division, in 2015, we previously reported (here) that the UK arm of the business had been separated from its Australian parent company.
Senior lender and majority shareholder, Anchorage Capital, has been in control of the recapitalisation plan ever since, shutting down operations in Chester, Wrexham, Milton Keynes, Preston, Sheffield, Fareham and Leeds [where the noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) team was based].[ii] Redundancies in Watford have also been deliberated, in recent months.[iii]
Knowledge that another office is now in the line of fire provides yet more evidence to suggest that management will encounter difficult decisions on the road to recuperating the business.
It appears to be the case that the 12 fee earner roles ‘at risk’ in Birmingham are non-PI roles and that an assessment will be undertaken to decide whether to discontinue the handling of non-personal injury claims. ‘At risk’, in this context, therefore means ‘at risk’ of relocation.
A spokesperson for S&G revealed that office restructuring is being used to simplify and centralise services and create, what they term: ‘specialised centres of excellence’.
It can therefore be surmised that the workforce in Birmingham will be heavily responsible for ‘growing’ the personal injury aspect of the business.
In a recent interview with City AM, S&G’s Chief Executive, David Whitmore, pledged ‘absolute commitment’ to remaining a ‘major player’ in the UK PI sector, but not necessarily as we currently know it:
‘We get very positive recognition from the Slater & Gordon brand name. Whether we feel that is going to be the right brand name for us for the next three-to-five years I don’t know yet – but it’s something we will keep under review’.[iv]
[i] John Hyde, ‘Slater and Gordon set to cut fee earner roles in Birmingham’ (20 February 2020 Law Gazette) <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/slater-and-gordon-set-to-cut-fee-earner-roles-in-birmingham/5103164.article> accessed 20 February 2020.
[ii] Neil Rose, ‘Slater & Gordon continues office shutdowns’ (23 October 2019 Legal Futures) <https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/slater-gordon-continues-office-shutdowns> accessed 21 February 2020.
[iii] James Dennison, ‘Slater and Gordon to make over 100 UK staff redundant’ (25 October 2019 Roll On Friday) <https://www.rollonfriday.com/news-content/slater-and-gordon-make-over-100-uk-staff-redundant> accessed 21 February 2020.
[iv] James Booth, ‘Slater & Gordon boss talks life after Quindell’ <https://www.cityam.com/slater-gordon-boss-talks-life-after-quindell/> accessed 21 February 2020.