Neo-Georgian building in heart of legal London purchased by chicken giant for undisclosed fee
The Law Society of England and Wales’ Chancery Lane headquarters is poised to become Europe’s largest Nando’s, Legal Cheek can this morning reveal.
The impressive neo-Georgian building (pictured above) — completed in 1832 — has been sold for an undisclosed fee to Robby Enthoven, son of South African billionaire Dick Enthoven, who oversees the firm’s UK operations.
The controversial move, which Legal Cheek understands has already obtained planning approval, will create Europe’s largest branch of the fast-food outlet with 35 separate eating areas spread across six different levels — one of which will have a “gavel-inspired legal theme”.
A groundbreaking tie-up with local law schools and the four Inns of Court will see jobless Bar Professional Training Course graduates guaranteed work in the restaurant for as long as it takes them to secure a pupillage.
Nando’s — founded in 1987 — has 339 stores across the UK and over 1,000 worldwide, but this will be the first to have such close links to a particular industry.
The imposing Law Society building, which is situated at 113 Chancery Lane, has been home to the solicitors’ representative body for over 180 years. However, Legal Cheek spies say Enthoven earmarked the building last year during a trip to London, claiming it was strategically well placed to serve the legal community with high quality peri-peri chicken at reasonable prices.
Details regarding the Law Society’s relocation are thin on the ground. One option could be to move to Cardiff, where it already has an office, while it has also been suggested that the society could be ‘northshored’ to Belfast where — despite the separate legal system — several City law firms have a base. Those in favour of the move argue this would dramatically reduce overheads.
President of the Law Society Jonathan Smithers and chief executive Catherine Dixon are said to have each received an exclusive Nando’s ‘Black Card’ as part of the deal, allowing them to eat at any branch of the restaurant free of charge for a year.
This major real estate deal comes in the wake of government-backed proposals that could leave the Law Society on shaky ground financially.
A large percentage of the Law Society’s income is made up of a compulsory practising fee paid by solicitors. However, the government is said to want to make this voluntary as the Solicitors Regulation Authority moves towards full independence from its representative partner.
Clearly concerned about a substantial drop in income, Law Society big-wigs have decided to cash in on London’s property boom. However insiders suggest that the Black Cards handed to Smithers and Dixon have also played a major part in decision-making. Cheeky Nando’s all round!