Managing partner says he’s ‘very sorry’ as he reveals KWM will file for administration today

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By Thomas Connelly on

Firm’s stricken European arm will change its name to QSP Residual Recoveries LLP


King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) will finally file for administration today, this according to an email received by its lawyers and support staff in the past few hours.

Sent by the firm’s UK, European and Middle East (EUME) managing partner, Tim Bednall, the email confirms that KWM “will appoint administrators today”.

Continuing, the lengthy message (in full below) states that administrators — restructuring specialist Quantuma — will be in touch with staff later this afternoon regarding outstanding salary and statutory redundancy payments.

The email also reveals that the troubled firm’s European arm will change its name to QSP Residual Recoveries LLP during the administration process. He signs off the email with an apology, Bednall telling what lawyers and staff remain that he is “very sorry that it has finally come to this”.

A spokesperson, confirming the news, told Legal Cheek:

I can confirm that King & Wood Mallesons LLP (London) will appoint administrators today (17 January 2017).

This news comes just hours after Legal Cheek revealed an astonishing email exchange between two of KWM’s top lawyers. Signalling what appears to be the start of the blame game, George Pinkham and Tim Taylor QC — partners at KWM’s New York and Dubai outposts respectively — exchanged a war of words over the demise of the firm’s European offices.

And while partners clash the KWM trainee rescue effort, first revealed on Legal Cheek, continues to gather pace.

In the past 24 hours magic circle outfit Allen & Overy confirmed that it had “offered four current KWM trainees a position” at its firm. Meanwhile Hogan Lovells revealed it is in the process of “interviewing prospective trainees” and hopes to confirm exact numbers in the next week or so.

This follows yesterday’s news that Ashurst and the London office of US outfit Fried Frank confirmed they would both be taking on up to three trainees each. Other firms that have either confirmed they are, or are considering, taking on some of KWM’s stricken trainees include Goodwin Procter, Linklaters, Freshfields Brukhaus Deringer, Covington & Burling, and Slaughter and May.

Read the full email below:

Dear Colleagues,

The UK firm, King & Wood Mallesons LLP, will appoint administrators today, following the finalisation of terms for the sale (in parts) of almost all of the London and Cambridge practices to a number of other firms, including KWM China.

The administrators will be Andrew Hosking and several of his partners from Quantuma.

The administrators will communicate with all staff, likely commencing this afternoon, and propose to arrange staff meetings with conference call dial in facilities. The administrators will advise continuing staff in relation to salary payments, and all staff concerning their statutory redundancy and statutory payments, and the process for making a claim on the national insurance fund. They will also advise on matters such as access to the office and to emails.

Immediately following the appointment of administrators, the firm will cease to practice. The firm will also cease to be a member of the KWM Verein, and will change its name to ‘QSP Residual Recoveries LLP’.

As advised last week, most active files have been or are in the process of being transferred to other firms. KWM China has established a new UK firm that will take on a number of active and inactive files, and KWM CIS will also take files on a temporary basis that are in the process of being transferred to other firms. If you have a live matter and are uncertain about where the file is to be held, please contact David Wilman and his team.

Samantha Palmer from Ashfords will be appointed as the Solicitor Manager of the LLP to manage the process of billing and collection of remaining files, and the allocation of client monies, amongst other things.

I am very sorry that it has finally come to this. I am particularly distressed by the fact that salaries were not able to be paid for the last two weeks, for reasons previously explained.

I wish you well.

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