Legal Business Blogs

PI consolidation – Irwin Mitchell acquires Manchester’s McCool Patterson

After becoming the first multiple-licensed alternative business structure (ABS) last August Irwin Mitchell has acquired personal injury (PI) firm McCool Patterson Hemsi Solicitors (MPH), its fourth acquisition in 12 months as the PI market continues to consolidate.

MPH – whose five directors and 24 lawyers and support staff will all join the UK top 25 law firm – will operate as an ABS and subsidiary of Irwin Mitchell from its offices in Manchester and Newmarket.

The acquisition of MPH, which specialises in serious injury, clinical negligence and armed forces work, is the fourth business acquired through Irwin Mitchell’s debt legal services subsidiary Ascent – which offers a debt collection service for insurance groups and banks such as Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC – since the end of last year.

Geraldine McCool, director at MPH said: ‘These are difficult times for victims of personal injury and clinical negligence and their families due to recent funding and procedural changes and we believe that having access to greater resources, ancillary services and like-minded lawyers will help us to help them to meet these challenges. We will also be able to offer them help in other areas of law as they proceed through life.

‘The synergies between the two firms in niche areas such as MOD claims, asbestos-related work and clinical negligence, with clients such as the Communication Workers Union and the commitment to pro bono work is compelling; we look forward to the future together.’

Andrew Tucker, chief executive of personal legal services at Irwin Mitchell, said: ‘This will give us greater strength in depth in an important area for our business and is in line with our strategy to take advantage of the right opportunities available to us now we are an ABS.

‘We already have a very strong position and reputation in the personal legal services sector and we plan to grow our presence still further as and when any future opportunities emerge.’

This is the latest example of consolidation in the PI market, particularly in Manchester, after Australian-listed Slater & Gordon acquired Manchester PI firm Fentons in August and is currently in talks to buy a large chunk of Pannone’s business.

It also emerged this week that Lyons Davidson, which has this year entered into successive joint ventures with Admiral and then the AA to undertake their PI work, is making 50 redundandies, blaming the post-Jackson reform litigation market.

This latest development comes after 11-office Irwin Mitchell – which broke through the £200m revenue barrier at the end of last financial year –made a number of key hires this year, building on 13 partner hires in the previous year, including five into its personal injury services division.

This month former head of litigation for Leeds and Manchester at LB100 North West firm Ward Hadaway Paula Myers joined as head of contentious probate.

In October the top 25 firm also added two partners into its business legal services (BLS) division with former Pinsent Masons litigation head Nigel Kissack and IP partner Alex Newman from Squire Sanders.