A law firm has collapsed and blamed the impact of the coronavirus.
Darlingtons Solicitors, which employs 16 qualified lawyers and eight other staff at its Edgeware office, has gone bust. The firm was established in 1999 by father and son David and James Swede.
It made lay-offs three days before the prime minister announced the lockdown on 24 March, said a source.
Support staff were "'offered'" three months' unpaid leave but furlough was refused point-blank "without explanation", said the insider. Trainees "were simply 'let go' before being offered their positions back if they agreed to work without pay", they said.
"Within three weeks of lockdown the word began to spread that the firm was actually a dead Norwegian Blue parrot and not just pining for the fjords of Edgware High Street", said the source.
David Rosen, a partner at the firm and a Professor of Law at Brunel University, confirmed that Darlingtons had gone to the wall, and blamed the pandemic. Speaking on behalf of Managing Partner James Swede, he said "Darlingtons is unfortunately one more victim of the economic effects of the coronavirus"..
"Our work pipelines were dramatically adversely impacted as early as February and we took early and prudent commercial steps to protect the business", Rosen told RollOnFriday.
But, "ultimately, the bank rejected our efforts to refinance and borrow money, when work in our dominant property department dramatically ceased, leaving us with few options to continue to trade".
He said the firm was "engaged in a managed wind down" and had self-notified the SRA.
The firm's website has yet to mention that it has closed, informing visitors that "We remain open for business albeit in a new way", and promising "we will see you on the other side!"
Warning: warning contains inaccurate warnings.
"We are devastated that the outcome of our efforts to save the practice failed. Without the support of the bank, we were left with no choice", said Rosen.
"We are devastated that our loyal employees and staff have been made redundant. We couldn’t continue to pay them, and neither could the partnership draw from profit, where none existed. We wish all of our staff well in these difficult times".
While the impact of coronavirus is huge and ongoing, small firms in precarious relationships with their lenders appear far more vulnerable than most. Larger firms with multiple practice areas have said they are well-placed to adapt to the crisis, while others are bringing in a number of measures to contain the adverse effects. Sadly, Darlingtons will not be one of them.