Legal Business Blogs

Slater and Gordon slashes 640 UK jobs in a year as PI firm continues to restructure

Lawyers at Australia-listed Slater and Gordon (S&G) have faced a turbulent year at the firm as it has emerged via its annual report that headcount has been reduced by 16% in the UK.

Published on the Australian stock exchange this morning, the firm revealed it has 3,310 employees in the UK across 25 locations compared to 3,950 at 28 locations the previous year.

The firm, led by chair Andrew Skippen and managing director Andrew Grech, has been embroiled in a major restructure of its UK operation since February after announcing disappointing global results including the goodwill impairment. The reorganisation is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of 2017.

It had a two month window until the end of March from its banks to deliver a repayment plan by the end of this month for its debt of A$741m, and finalised an agreement with its banks in May.

Senior names to depart from the firm this year include general counsel and company secretary Moana Weir who resigned after just two months while in February its UK chief, Neil Kinsella, announced his retirement as UK head of general law, with Siri Siriwardene replacing him.

The annual report for the year ending June 2016 reveals that the value of work in progress decreased by A$89.2m (£53m), of which just under half is due to a decline in case volumes in the Australian and UK practices and the resolution of acquired work.

Skippen said UK performance in the first half of 2016 was significantly below expectations and a performance improvement program was commenced in the second half. ‘This has involved ceasing operations in some locations and resizing the workforce. This component of the performance improvement programme will be substantially completed by early 2017.’

In 2015, the personal injury business Slater Gordon Solutions, which took on the acquired professional services division of Quindell, accounted for 6% of the group’s A$627.3m (£375m) income. That proportion has jumped to 50% of the group’s A$908m (£543m) turnover for 2016.

The Australian arm of that business accounted for half the group’s turnover in 2016 and today stands at 26%. The UK business is stated to generate a £300m annual turnover.

Recently it emerged S&G is to sue Watchstone Group, formerly known as Quindell, following the £637m acquisition of the UK company’s professional services division in 2015.