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Slater and Gordon general counsel jumps ship after less than two months

Australian-listed Slater and Gordon‘s general counsel (GC) and company secretary Moana Weir has resigned after spending less than two months at the troubled firm.

The firm announced Weir’s resignation which was ‘effective immediately’ in a statement on Australian Securities Exchange on Thursday. Weir had begun working as the firm’s GC on January 29 after her appointment was announced in October 27. She joined the firm from job site Seek where she had been working as the company’s GC for six years.

Slater and Gordon’s current group chief financial officer Bryce Houghton will take up the role of company secretary. Houghton joined the firm in November of last year, leaving global education provider Navitas where he was chief financial officer for ten years.

According to an ASX-statement the firm will fill the role of general counsel with an ‘external adviser while re-assessing its business needs.’

Slater and Gordon is presently under deadline, after it was given a two month window by its banks to deliver a repayment plan by the end of April for its debt of A$741m. Concurrently the firm announced its plans to restructure its UK operation in February after posting an A$958m (£493m) loss for the six months ending 31 December 2015, primarily due to a hefty writedown of its UK business. The firm, which makes about 45% of its revenue in the UK, confirmed in January it was consulting on the closure of two its UK offices, which would affect 51 staff.

The firm’s profits for the last financial year were significantly affected by a non-cash impairment charge of A$876.4m against goodwill, mostly due to a A$814.2m impairment in goodwill for its Slater Gordon Solutions unit, previously known as Quindell. The firm said the potential impact of the government’s planned changes which would limit personal injury claims, was a significant factor in the goodwill impairment.

In February the firm’s UK chief, Neil Kinsella, announced his retirement as UK head of general law, with Siri Siriwardene replacing him. The announcement coincided with media reports that the firm was in talks over debt restructuring and brought in FTI Consulting in a bid to address its financial health.