Legal Business

If you can’t beat ’em… Cripps Harries merges with Vertex as Geldards acquires TPP Law


Good strategy is rarely dictated by old wives’ tales but the adage ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ certainly rings truer than ever in the regions and this week has seen the merger between two of Kent’s best-known law firms, Cripps Harries Hall and Vertex Law, as Midlands firm Geldards also pushes its public law brand in the City with the acquisition of TPP Law.

Property specialist Cripps, which the Legal 500 gives top-tier recommendations for commercial property and property litigation in the South East, will combine with corporate and commercial-focused Vertex Law to strengthen its position in Kent and extend its reach across the region and into London.

The merger will create a firm of 45 partners and 260 staff and is said by the firms to create ‘an enhanced joint client offering across core areas.’

Cripps managing partner Gavin Tyler (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘Vertex Law has prided itself on trying to be different in terms of their entrepreneurial approach, particularly in the way they interact and work with referrers and their business networks, rather than being corporate lawyers most of them behave like an entrepreneurial corporate would, which is fascinating from the point of view of a firm which is over 160 years old.’

Seven-partner Vertex, which counts its year end as September, is projecting a turnover of £4m, (of which around £1m is generated by litigation and real estate and the remainder corporate), adding to Cripps’ £18.3m in 2012/13, of which around 40% was generated by real estate and 38% by private client matters.

Tyler will continue to act as managing partner and Cripps senior partner Michael Stevens will stay in that role. The two firms will trade under their own names and in their current headquarters pending full integration of the two businesses, with the branding process likely to complete at the end of September, according to Tyler.

Elsewhere, Kent County Council’s (CC) private sector partner Geldards, which has offices in Derby, Nottingham and Cardiff, has acquired London-based public services practice TPP Law in a bid to strengthen its national public services offering and expand its geographical reach into the City.

News of the alliance comes as the public sector specialist firm, which in 2010 teamed up with Kent CC to offer its services to government departments round the country under the brand Law:Public, has posted flat turnover with revenues of £21m for the third consecutive year.

TPP Law’s managing director Mark Johnson said: ‘The government’s programme of public service reform is generating strong demand for legal services to create partnerships and new service models in education, local government and offender management services.

‘Joining the Geldards’ team with their geographical reach and substantial public sector expertise, will enable us to offer greater strength in depth to our public, private and third sector clients across England.’

Under the deal, Geldards will retain the trading name TPP Law for an interim period and Johnson will become a partner in Geldards.