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‘Bumpy year’: Burness Paull posts flat revenue and profit as muted Scots performance continues

Scottish independent Burness Paull has posted flat financials for 2016/17 with turnover up 1% from £53.3m to £53.8m, while profit per equity partner stands at £453,000 compared to £451,000 last year.

Additionally, overall profit was down 2% from £22.5m to £22m in what the firm’s chairman Philip Rodney described a ‘bumpy year for the Scottish economy’. In 2015/16, the firm saw stronger revenue growth of 4% but PEP was down by 6%.

Speaking to Legal Business, Rodney (pictured) said: ‘We have seen marginal growth, which is symbolically nice to see rather than it going the other way. Given the market that we are operating in in Scotland over the last year, I am satisfied with the result.’

According to Rodney the areas of tax and technology performed well, as did energy and renewables. Oil and gas performed ‘better than expected’ and although deals were ‘more stop-start than usual’, corporate and transactional activity was good.

Highlights for the firm in the past year include advising Scottish-based Renegade Spirits on the development of Waterford Distillery in Ireland and acting on the $163m sale of Sterling Resources (UK) to Dutch company Oranje-Nassau Energie.

The firm has also brought in eight partners, including property partner Nicky Clemence from Brodies and dispute resolution partner Jody Crockett from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer as well as appointing its first general counsel.

This muted performance from a Scottish firm that has enjoyed a strong run over recent years is in keeping with the other Scottish independents to announce figures so far. In a market that has suffered from political and economic turmoil over Brexit and a potential second referendum on Scottish independence, Burness’ rival Brodies posted a slower rate of growth than usual, while Shepherd and Wedderburn saw revenue fall 5% from £53m to £50.5m, as PEP fell 7% to £349,000.

For more on a tougher Scottish legal market, read ‘The Scottish play – amid uncertain times English law firms keep crossing the border’