Davenport Lyons goes into administration as Gordon Dadds takes on clients, assets and partners

After a series of failed merger talks Davenport Lyons has gone into administration, with Mayfair firm Gordon Dadds confirming today (28 April) that it has taken on the client database, the majority of assets and secured nearly all of the partners.

The terms of the sale were agreed last week by joint administrator Baker Tilly. A spokesman from Davenport Lyons said: ‘As of close of business on Friday 25 April, the legal entity known as Davenport Lyons ceased trading and the majority of the company’s client balances, work in progress and client files have been transferred to Gordon Dadds, who will also be collecting debtor balances on behalf of the administrator.

‘Gordon Dadds has entered into arrangements with the majority of the partners of Davenport Lyons to enable them to continue to care for their existing clients and a number of Davenport Lyons staff will also be joining Gordon Dadds.’

Davenport Lyons has around 73 fee-earners, in addition to its 42 partners, and the spokesman for Davenport Lyons said approximately 80 staff will transfer to Gordon Dadds, including 30 partners. Chief executive Richard Williams has not so far agreed to move across to Gordon Dadds, although negotiations are on-going.

The West End firm had struggled for growth in recent times, with its revenues down 11% from £24.5m to £21.9m in 2012/13, while profit per equity partner dropped 12.5% to £197,000.

Davenport Lyons, which last November got rid of its film and TV group, had so far this year engaged in merger talks with both HowardKennedyFsi and Shakespeares, amid growing speculation over its finances, although it has so far previously denied publicly it was in financial difficulty.

HowardKennedy called off the talks at the end of February, just weeks after Shakespeares took the same decision.

Adrian Biles, managing partner of Gordon Dadds said: ‘We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with so many of the excellent people and clients of Davenport Lyons. The additional intellectual capital and depth of expertise will add to our capabilities.’

Biles added that the combined firm will be a UK top 100 firm, operating out of offices in Mayfair and Covent Garden.

‘It will benefit current and future clients and enable us to expand our activity across new disciplines, helping us to achieve our goal of positioning Gordon Dadds LLP as a centre of excellence for all aspects of corporate, commercial, real estate, dispute resolution, employment, intellectual property, media and technology and private client and family law. The new team is very excited by the synergies and capabilities as we move forward as what will be a top 100 law firm,’ Biles added.

david.stevenson@legalease.co.uk