Legal Business Blogs

KWM 2.0 moves into new offices as administrators begin investigation into collapsed business

King & Wood Mallesons‘ (KWM) new business in London, comprising seven partners, has today (20 January) moved into new offices on the 4th floor of St Martins Court, 5 Cheapside in the City.

Established just one day after the firm formally entered administration, the firm’s new business, dubbed KWM 2.0 and consisting of offices in London, Frankfurt, Dubai and Riyadh (alongside affiliated entities in Milan, Brussels and Madrid) will each operate as separate financial entities, but remain part of the verein structure. They have each received financial support from KMW China, in different ways, according to local regulations.

Meanwhile, the administrators Quantuma and solicitor manager Sam Palmer, head of professional and financial risk at Ashfords expect to have the old 10 Queen Place Street offices cleared and client files transferred by next Monday 23 January. Palmer had sent an email yesterday reminding lawyers of their professional obligations with regards to the transferring of client files which she said had a positive response.

The first report, called a Statement of Insolvency Practice (SIP) 16 will be lodged by the administrators within seven days from the day the firm formally entered the process, due by Tuesday 24 January.

Quantuma partner Andrew Hosking, appointed as joint administrator the legacy SJ Berwin practice, now called QSP Residual Recoveries LLP, said initial investigations showed there were ‘some concerns’ around accounting treatments used, but added it is too early to give more detail on the matter.

Hosking said: ‘There are a number of aspects which concern me and I will perform my investigation and work with larger creditors.’

According to the administrators the major creditors include Barclays bank, 10 Queen Street’s landlord, and a number of finance companies. More information on the creditors will also be provided in due course.

The administrators had initially kept 70 KWM staff to help with the process and investigation, which is now down to 53 and the number is to further diminish as work progresses and as the premises vacate.

The administrators said the first priority is the seamless move of client files and monies which solicitor manager Palmer is currently overseeing.

Palmer said: ‘KWM is the largest regulatory failure of its kind, for financial reasons. The priority is to get the client money out of the accounts as soon as possible, and in the most seamless manner. These are significant balances.’

Hosing added: ‘This was a law firm turning over almost £200m which sadly imploded and the way it did raises concerns about how it happened. People need to be assured that the administrator is going to be fair and balanced.’

Partners remaining with KWM China include:

Joseph Newitt – corporate (London)

Greg Stonefield – corporate (London)

Mike Wang – corporate (London)

Vanessa Docherty – finance (London)

Dorothy Murray – disputes (London)

Darren Roiser – disputes (London)

Andrei Yakovlev – disputes (London)

Christian Cornett – corporate (Frankfurt)

Rudolf Haas – banking & finance (Frankfurt)

Ruediger Knopf – tax (Frankfurt)

Sandeep Dhama – corporate (Dubai)

Ghassan El Daye – disputes (Dubai)

Joanne Strain – international arbitration (Dubai)

Tim Taylor QC – international arbitration (Dubai)

Majed Almarshad – corporate (Riyadh)

Glenn Lovell – corporate (Riyadh)

George Pinkham – corporate (New York)