rollercoaster

Welcome to the suck.


The CEO of Axiom Ince has been suspended along with two other directors of the firm.

The chaos which has engulfed the business has given rise to speculation that the recent sale of Plexus to Axiom Ince may have to be unwound, and that the police are now investigating.

Axiom CEO Pragnesh Modhwadia along with Idnan Liaqat and Shyam Mistry all had their practices shut down by the SRA on Monday.

A day later Donald Brown, the CEO of Ince - which was being run as a separate entity - and its Managing Partner, Jennette Newman, both resigned.

Modhwadia was the CEO and managing partner of Axiom Ince, previously known as Axiom DWFM, and was riding high after supersizing his business with the pre-pack administration purchases of Ince for £2.2m and Plexus for £1.1m.

RollOnFriday revealed how Modhwadia flew in almost the entire complement of Ince employees for a knees-up in Kensington Gardens which ended in a burlesque club he hired especially to toast their arrival.

His downfall was so rapid that Plexus staff never got a chance to benefit from strippers at his expense, and will have to settle for the revelation that their new firm is also a complete and utter clown show instead. Many are understood to be seeking new positions this week.

Mistry was head of personal injury and medical negligence, while Liaqat was head of property. The profiles of all three men have been wiped from Axiom Ince’s website.

The SRA said it had intervened to close their practices as they had failed to comply with accounting rules, and that in Modhwadia’s case “there was reason to suspect dishonesty”.

A spokesperson for the firm gave more detail, namely “the misappropriation by Pragnesh of very significant sums of money”. 

None of it exactly screams ‘you’re on safe ground’ to the beleaguered staff of Ince and Plexus, many of whom have already endured an almost incredible string of crises at their respective firms. 

Although three of Axiom Ince's 16 directors are no longer allowed to work, it continues to be able to trade. The SRA said that “any investigation work only involves the individual practices of the three solicitors above and not the over-arching firm”. 

However, there is now unconfirmed speculation that the sale of Plexus to Axiom Ince may be in jeopardy. "Axiom have told Plexus partners that they are forensically reviewing the accounts and may have to reverse the deal to buy them", said a source, since Axiom "only paid the first instalment to buy Plexus and may no longer be able to afford the rest".

Asked to comment, and asked whether they should have checked out the purchaser of Plexus more diligently, administrator Interpath did not respond, which may have something to do with ROF.

Sources have queried how the regulator could have given approval for the sale to go ahead given what is now emerging about the purchaser.

The SRA said it could neither confirm nor deny that the police were also involved. The Met said they were not investigating, however the Serious Fraud Office said it could neither confirm nor deny that it was investigating.

A spokesperson for Axiom Ince said, “it would be deeply inappropriate for us to comment on unfounded speculation", but disclosed that the firm had retained accountancy practice BDO to conduct "a thorough and comprehensive investigation and review. The aim is to continue to operate normal business practices, as we have done over the last week”. ('Normal' for Axiom Ince Plexus, that is. For any other firm it would be a once-in-a-lifetime, five-alarm fire.)

Another spokesperson told ROF, “The directors and partners have taken immediate steps to protect the business, our clients and our employees whose wellbeing remains our priority as we navigate the best and most viable way to proceed”. Gulp.


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Comments

Bye bye baby 18 August 23 08:48

Glasgow office of Ince has also resigned. 

Reign 18 August 23 08:50

Oh darn - who’s going to drink all our champers now - come back Prags. 

Anonymous 18 August 23 08:50

Feels like a firm that has been placed in palliative care for years.

Get out 18 August 23 09:15

What are the Plexus staff still doing there?!

Anonymous 18 August 23 09:15

Hahahaha the Administrators “sold” the files but forgot to get the money up front and now there’s no money left?

The creditors of Ince and Plexus must be absolutely delighted.

SRA shame 18 August 23 09:21

How on earth did the SRA sanction of Plexus while also investigating the purchaser for misdeeds. 
 

Surely the SRA should have said the sale cannot proceed?????

And how did interpath judge Axiom a sensible purchaser? 

Lord Lester 18 August 23 09:22

I like Axiom Ince and Plexus!

Roderick 18 August 23 09:30

Presumably all Ince lawyers now seeking an exit. Stories of multiple partner resignations.  By association with the fabulous leadership of Axiom DWFM the reputation of Ince is now dragged fully into the gutter. 

Frazza 18 August 23 09:39

The clients must be thrilled.

Anonymous 18 August 23 09:39

@9.22 - we all like people who haven't been foynd guilty of any wrongdoing whatsoever by the BSB!

not again! 18 August 23 09:44

twice crashed clown car, hit by meteorite?

LondonLife 18 August 23 09:50

As flagged by "SRA shame 18 August 23 09:21" how on earth did the SRA allow the sale to go ahead!?

They really are a joke of a regulator. Do failed lawyers go to work there?

Never ending 18 August 23 09:50

The dictionary definition of Plexus is a network of nerves or vessels in the body - anyone working there must have nerves of steel and a constant supply of bog roll.  

Anonymous Anonymous 18 August 23 09:52

Another example of giving the legal profession a bad name.

Anon 18 August 23 09:53

Anonymous 18 August 23 09:39: what does “foynd” mean?

Desperately sorry 18 August 23 09:54

I feel very sorry for the poor Plexus staff. Let down by prior leaders and sold off for a vastly inflated price to private equity in 2019, suffered the mess of the claim against the 4 former owners, seemed ok when the 4 former owners paid back millions and millions to Origin in early 2021, got managed into a hole by Origin, got advised by interpath in 2023, sold by interpath to Axiom in July 2023 and then, just 6 weeks later, find out that Axiom is owned by a very dodgy looking bloke who has been suspended and that their new firm may be in financial difficulties. 
 

Same for the Ince staff too, in a way. 
 

How on earth did the SRA decide that while investigating Axion DWFM and Pragnesh and Shyam it was ok to sanction the sale of Plexus to them??? 

Anon 18 August 23 09:54

Lord Lester 18 August 23 09:22: firms which share your ethos, Mo!

Letter to Interpath 18 August 23 09:55

Dear Interpath,

WTAF have you done?

Regards

Very pi@@ed off Private Equity chaps. 

Embarrassed 18 August 23 10:01

Don’t forget Quantuma.  
2 firms of insolvency practitioners have been stitched up like kippers here.

As for the SRA, what a joke.  You sanctioned 2 very significant sales to somebody you were investigating for dishonesty.  Time to defund and disband the SRA.  

 

Gypsy curse 18 August 23 10:31

Are Ince and Plexus partners cursed?

 

Opportunity Knocks 18 August 23 10:35

Out of adversity comes opportunity. In this regard, I hear Origin are seriously considering an intervention as they have considerable experience of managing dumpster fires and believe themselves to be the perfect fit. 

Tiny Stickdole 18 August 23 10:39

I feel like a right Amateur, me. 

Anonymous 18 August 23 10:55

"The clients must be thrilled."

I just can't understand how a firm (/firms) going through this level of extreme turbulence could possibly have any left?

Clients and staff alike should have said "nope" several months ago and walked. Any other option would have been better than staying. 

The level of passivity from the people who remain to experience this madness is astounding.

The Fringe 18 August 23 10:59

Surely the SRA must take its comedy show to the Edinburgh Fringe next year?

It will win “best newcomer” with ease if it tells the story of how it sanctioned the sale of two firms to people it was already investigating for serious professional misconduct.  

Victor 18 August 23 11:02

We made a complaint to the serious fraud office and reported 11 million pounds of misappropriation of public money by a lord and his cronies, three years later and nothing has happened. 

Anon 18 August 23 11:12

Victor 18 August 23 11:02 - I know I’m dodgy, Victor, but it wasn’t me!

Anonymous 18 August 23 11:13

@9.52 - since suspension don't indicate guilt it doesn't give anybody a bad name.

Chief Engineer Scotty 18 August 23 11:14

Cap'n she canny take anymore!! 

Anon 18 August 23 11:21

Anonymous Anonymous 18 August 23 09:52 - exactly, because in order to suspend someone, there has to be a finding of wrongdoing. Which brings the profession into disrepute.

What next 18 August 23 11:24

Will we get another ABS rise out of the ashes of all this mess. Plaxce? Apex? Plexiom?

Anonymous 18 August 23 11:39

Didn't take long for the brave new world to come crashing down.

Sincerest condolences to all the long-suffering staff.

Anonymous 18 August 23 12:28

@11.21 - there doesn't have to be any finding of wrongdoing to suspend someone. Thinking otherwise brings the profession into disrepute.

Anonymous 18 August 23 12:29

@9.53 - we don't know, what does it mean?

Anon 18 August 23 12:59

@12:29 - quite. What does “foynd” mean? Anyone know?

Anonymous 18 August 23 13:07

@9.54 - which ethos and how do they share it Mo?

Anon 18 August 23 13:15

@09:54 - maybe join as a consultant, Mo? You’d fit right in!

Anon 18 August 23 13:23

Anonymous 18 August 23 13:07 - the firms and Lord Lester have being dodgy in common! 

To Desperately Sorry 18 August 23 13:24

You were no doubt one of the sycophants who sucked up to and supported PE to the hilt right until the end and believed their lies and totally back their division of the firm and sacking of good loyal long standing staff.

Now you need to own your mistakes rather than blaming others. Pretty disgusting and ridiculous comments again!!

If Gav and Stacey had been challenged by a majority of partners not just those who got sacked then this absolute mess could have been avoided as Plexus would still have had value….

 

Anonymous 18 August 23 13:32

@12.58/12.59

Exactly what?

No, what does it mean?

Anon 18 August 23 13:57

Anonymous 18 August 23 13:32 - u ok hun 

Stinky Beak 18 August 23 14:03

This is absolutely disgusting the SRA must have known about this and did nothing!  Tbh it doesn’t surprise me that this has happened.

The Del boy of the law firm world is what Modhwadia has been referred to as! 

I feel for the staff at Plexus as this must be an extremely anxious time for them with none of it being their fault just the [redacted] McDougall, T Roberts & Fiona Scott. The writing was on the wall when Tim Oliver was dumped all those years ago.  Shame on the lot of them! 

Khaled Abd-Ellatif 18 August 23 14:11

Any jobs going? Asking for a friend 

Anonymous 18 August 23 14:11

@13:57 - the question is are you?

Anonymous 18 August 23 14:16

@13.15 - what is a 'consultant Mo'? Anybody?

Fit right into what?

Anonymous 18 August 23 14:17

@13.24

 

I share Desperately Sorry's sentiments in feeling great pity for Plexus staff. And just to be clear I'm not "one of the sycophants who sucked up to and supported PE to the hilt right until the end and believed their lies". In fact I have never worked at Plexus. But I know people who have done and still do and I recognise what a dreadful time they have had. 
Would you suggest that I need to own my mistakes rather than blaming others? Assuming not, why do you consider that Desperately Sorry should? 

Prags 18 August 23 14:18

Don’t worry ,,,,I’ve got loads of properties which I’m selling to put back the money 

Imposter Syndrome 18 August 23 14:21

Feel for the employees who are victims in this car crash. Met Prags once - couldn't take to him - he was all about the money. What a sad state of affairs. 

Anonymous 18 August 23 14:22

@13.23 - what they have in common is that neither of them have been found guilty of any wrongdoing whatsoever by the BSB?

Nomad 18 August 23 14:34

@Stinky Beak - Del Boy is right!

 

We've been left in a right mess - how this was ever allowed to happen is beyond me

It's a very concerning time for all of us in the firms screwed over by Del 

Imposter Syndrome 18 August 23 14:39

@Stinky Beak - yep, Del Boy just about sums him up. 

Not a Delboy 18 August 23 14:49

I disagree with the comments referencing prags to Delboy. You knew were you stood with Delboy, and Delboy looked after people. 

Idnan 18 August 23 14:53

Well at least I was able to 50 super cars at my wedding and a build a mansion in Pakistan 

 

https://youtu.be/AJhmFw2GGHk

Imposter Syndrome 18 August 23 15:00

@Not A Delboy - are you saying Prags didn't care about anyone else but himself? Surely not!!

Anon 18 August 23 15:58

SRA are not sophisticated or smart enough to handle this. 

Anon 18 August 23 16:19

Interpath pushed for the sale of Plexus to go through to Axiom (supported by Pinsent Mason). No doubt with significant encouragement from Origin who were out of their depth and desperate. The FSMs/partners were threatened with losing their practicing certificates if the sale did not go through, as the firm faced intervention, when all along Interpath had little comfort that Axiom was a good purchaser. 

The SRA was involved throughout and must have known of the potential issues before the sale completed, but yet still sanctioned the sale. Their failure to act has now catapulted the successor firm and its staff into chaos. 

There have been many references to clowns, but the prize for that accolade must be jointly shared with Interpath and the SRA. 🤡

ExSalariedPartner 18 August 23 16:54

If the sale is unwound, do the former salaried partners get to deal with the wonderful crew from Pinsents again?

Their perfectly-pitched bedside manner and ability to read the room were such a comfort last time. 

Asking for a couple of dozen friends.

Vijay Parikh 18 August 23 16:54

It is really sad and disappointing to hear what has happened here. My thoughts are with the employees, partners and staff who have been left in this terrible situation.  

Anon 18 August 23 17:00

Thanks SRA for this mess.  Clearly you can’t buy a property without source of funds information. But you can buy law firms. 

D 18 August 23 17:08

If there are sufficient partners, and given the reported unfortunate financial embarrassment of the new owner entity, why not capitalize and buyout as the deal is unwound. The parameters are known and likely more backable with tie ins and aligned interests.  

Anon 18 August 23 19:36

Dear Insurance Companies,

You did this with ridiculously low rates for PI work.

Are you proud?

Lots of love,

The Lawyers you shafted.

Tupe or not Tupe 18 August 23 20:14

What happens to the 100s of staff who didn’t TUPE if the deal gets unwound? Do we have to go back?

What a mess 18 August 23 20:47

Not enough information to understand what has happened here. SRA is difficult position maybe a tipping off situation if intervened earlier.. who knows? What is certain that employees who thought they were in a better position are left with ongoing uncertainty. Maybe time for anyone not a partner to move on . 

Also to blame 18 August 23 21:06

It's true - insurance firms cannot compete for talent.  The quality of those in management positions steadily declines, ensuring their destruction.

Luton VI Form College Almuni 18 August 23 21:24

Prags you bad boy. Not surprised tbh(!)...should have stuck to property 

Anon 19 August 23 00:01

Ahh.. that’s where my pay rise went 

Survival of the fittest 19 August 23 07:48

Unpopular opinion time - especially for all you Wokies - but unlike some of those that have previously commented, I do not feel sorry for the remaining staff. Not one bit. Plexus has been the walking dead for some time. They either knew or ought to have known. No one stayed out of loyalty to the firm or clients - they stayed because there was no where else for them to go or no one would pay them the salaries they are on (which is being reconfirmed now most of them are in the market). That was a conscious choice made by each and every one of them and, as we all do, they have to live with that choice. A special Darwin Award goes to the Partner who joined from Weightmans a month before it went under despite the whole market being abuzz with what was going on. 

100 people decided not to TUPE to Axiom Ince, which was a good decision, if not a tad late. For those still there, perhaps its time for a career change, a realistic appraisal of your worth, your understanding of the market and your decision making skills. 

Former Incer 19 August 23 10:23

Donald Brown and Jenette Newman walked out the door as soon as the news broke. Having steered the already troubled firm straight for the rocks when they took over, they jump ship to leave staff flapping in the wind. Horrible people.

I hear Simon Oakes, who was the CFO of Ince Group (but delusionally denies any responsibility for its failure) has been appointed head of finance. So it's all going to be fine now......

Anon 19 August 23 10:39

I sympathise with the staff who remained with the firm.  

Yes, it was their mistake but their loyalty has been poorly rewarded.

Anon 19 August 23 12:20

Are we getting paid next week ? Asking for a friend 

Anonymous 19 August 23 13:49

Is it true none of the solicitors can confirm work. I’m a client and have been told all cases are on hold. I was about to exchange and buy a house this week!

To survival of the fittest: 19 August 23 14:05

You are entitled to your view.

It is, however, very unsavoury to actually spend time posting something as unkind as that.

In a world full of misery, why add to the misery experienced by others?

My sympathies to your family. 

Imposter Syndrome 19 August 23 15:00

@Luton VI Form College Almuni - why are you not surprised?

 

Banzai! 19 August 23 19:18

There are so many turds floating in the bowl at the moment, it's hard to know which one will flush first, but the odds card looks like this:

1. Slater and Gordon: 1-3 (looking like a favourite: financial year loss of £10m, following a £19m loss, balance sheet very so far in the red, it's almost scarlet, of £127m - https://tinyurl.com/3patzx68 - and newco set up called "Slater and Gordon Lawyers Limited" financed on 16 August 2023, looking a bit like a pre-pack buyer already established).

2. Axiom Ince: 1-2 (looks like it will have to give back the firms it "bought" but won't get the purchase price back, so probably just a question of time).

3. RBG Holdings plc: evens (finance director resigned and last ditch refinance by HSBC - both in July, big spike in shares sold between May and end of July 2023 which probably bears some SRA scrutiny - https://tinyurl.com/23ttfm55 - and sharply declining share price).

4. Knights Group Holdings plc: 3-1 (still hanging on, but share price in long term decline, haemorraging staff and turned a profit before tax of £5.5m in the year to 2021 to a profit before tax of £1m - which represented a loss of £2.5m after tax).

Prace your bets – no bet, no get!

SRA incompetence 19 August 23 19:45

All roads lead to the SRA on this one.  To sanction the sale when it had identified and was actively investigating the owners misconduct is nothing short of incredible.  Heads need to roll.  

Remember this…. 19 August 23 23:01

“Right from their initial expression of interest, Axiom were determined and committed to acquiring the practice, safeguarding jobs and importantly, helping to protect client interests”, it said.

Interpath said that to RoF.

I bet Interpath is feeling a little bit silly now.  
 

WellDuh 20 August 23 06:33

@imposter syndrome: 

Gonna hazard a wild guess here, that the answer is "Because he spent more than 2 seconds in Prag's presence" (in this case, apparently at the same school).

Anonymous 20 August 23 08:49

@14:05 - it's the truth.

It's not a convenient or happy one, but you can't shush it or wave it away with inane "be kind, be kind!" tutting.

They typed it because it's true.

It's bad luck that you initially boarded the vessel, but if you are still on the sinking ship at this point then you can't look for sympathy.

Misery 20 August 23 08:54

It is amazing how horrible some people are. 
 

Some people actually like comments designed to hurt others, and other dis-like comments urging people to be kind. 
 

What a world! 

Anonymous 20 August 23 11:01

So you come in with offers, pay a bit up front, take the assets and then fail to pay up.  You then generate cash from the assets and laugh at the Administrators.  

Sounds good to me. 

 

Need to get out asap 20 August 23 11:44

Prags has left an absolute disaster here.  He’s still the only shareholder so god knows how this can be unravelled by the so called management board.
 

worried about director liability here. 

Impartial 20 August 23 14:25

Surely this issue has come to light after the purchase/sale of Ince/Plexus completed.  Not a fan of the SRA but is it their role to vet and approve the sale and acquisition of law firms.  
 

Did the lawyers acting in these transactions and the administrators have obligations to ensure that Axiom was a suitable purchaser of Ince/Plexus. What about the partners of the firms being purchased and sold.  What due diligence was conducted and by who?

Get it together lads. 21 August 23 13:54

And now a partner is suing the SRA? What a mess.

Anonymous 22 August 23 10:14

"Some people actually like comments designed to hurt others, and other dis-like comments urging people to be kind."

I think that you've misunderstood the intent behind some of the commentary, to be honest with you.

It's not always constructive to 'be kind' in all circumstances. Sometimes it isn't productive to pat someone on the head and reassure them that they're a victim who doesn't deserve what the world is doing to them. Wallowing in pity isn't helpful in the long-term.

Sometimes it's far more helpful to stop being blandly 'kind' and to tell someone that they need to take action - even if that action is uncomfortable and unpalatable - and to say that while they may well have been unlucky, and found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, that their victimhood ends there and that what they need to start doing in the here and now is to get themselves out of that bad place and over to somewhere better. 

That's what people are saying to anyone left at AxiomIncePlex - it absolutely sucks that you were aboard this ship, not your fault and sorry for your loss, totally unfair that it should happen to you. But you're absolutely mad if you stay on board a second longer. You should have been out months ago, the only reasons to stay are stupidity, cowardice or incompetence. So take the kick up the backside and move already. Forget what your dream next career step is, screw what you think you should get, and just move your arse to any safe port to rebuild from there. It's temporary, you can move again from there.

But when AxInPlex place goes under - which it will - all the anonymous internet kindness in the world won't pay your rent, nor will it help you polish up your CV to disguise the fact that you're applying from a position of unemployment.

So be brave. Get out now.

We don't say it to hurt you. We say it because it's a message you need to hear in the clearest possible terms.

(w)ince 22 August 23 10:54

Speaking as someone at a firm that would previously have considered Ince a rival, it really is sad to see what has become of it. Hard to imagine now, but it was a genuinely top quality firm - shipping law used to be an esteemed practice and Ince was one of the (if not the) very best. Feel for everyone left there.

Anonymous 22 August 23 18:48

@survivalofthefittest

Has it not occurred to you that some of the people who have stayed, are not delusional but because they are graduate apprentices and trainees and are stuck? Do you even realise how difficult their situation is, with the majority of law firms not willing to accept transfers of training contracts? Not to mention the fact that they’re paid about 20k and now need to find a job asap to pay their rent? 

do you really not have any compassion? 

Anonymous 23 August 23 16:19

@anonymous (the long post above)

That's a very narrow minded stance. There are lots of different individual circumstances as to why it's not feasible or practical for someone to move on from a firm in this position. 

Nomad 23 August 23 19:56

The alleged amount of money will make your eyes water.    

Move on 23 August 23 20:48

Trainees and graduate apprentices will find new roles. Need to be flexible and look at all parts of the legal sector. I worked in this insurance law sector and for this firm.

I moved on as many others have. There are no longer jobs for life. If you are a trainee or graduate apprentice apply for roles outside of this sector. As others  have commented above the insurance sector have squeezed this market If you are a lawyer you have transferable skills. Take it from me I’ve done it. Walk away ! 

Anonymous. 23 August 23 21:03

I was a senior solicitor of many years when I found serious financial dishonesty in a well known claimant litigation firm ...still in existence...overcharging defendant litigation firms/insurers for their disbursements...in complete breach of the Indemnity Principle. The SRA were a complete joke. They appointed a young inexperienced lad to investigate... who initially allowed the claimant firm 3 months to investigate themselves and report back to him...time they used to cover up the dishonesty as best they could!!! He then took 2 years to find some smaller uncovered up dishonesty ....that he could have found in a week (along with the by then covered up larger bulk of dishonesty)if he had asked for the printouts I had suggested at the outset! The Claimant firm was fined many tens of thousands of pounds ...which the SRA gratefully banked after only spending a few thousand pounds themselves on a pathetic investigation. The SRA couldn't be bothered to pursue the 2 senior solicitors who had devised the scam as that would have been hard work and initially said they didn't have the funds to do so....and when they banked the fine monies they then said it was all a bit late to go after them and they had closed their file having fined their employer !!!! The SRA are a totally incompetent disgrace ....and should be closed down with a new body created in its place with honest and intelligent experts running it !!! I am not surprised at their inept handling of the approvals of the admininistration salesof these busineses. They are WORSE THAN USELESS !!!

Anonymous 24 August 23 11:43

This has a ripple effect on so many- imagine all the suppliers to the business that have teams in place that are unlikely to be paid. Insurance companies, landlords etc! A real shame for the profession and all involved with the firm! 

Ripple Effect 24 August 23 19:10

Now will insurance companies pay proper rates? 

To 11.43 24 August 23 20:07

Why won’t insurance companies be paid? 
 

cover withdrawn. Simples. 

Not the Waitress from the Cora Restaurant 24 August 23 20:49

Where has [] gone?  Will he be undergoing some long overdue training about how to behave like a human being in a restaurant rather than a drunken boorish yob?  Why wasn’t he called out for his Cora Restaurant behaviour over a year ago by anyone apart from the restaurant owner?

What were the board of Ince Group PLC doing appointing such a person as [] of the business?

Where has Jennette Newman gone?  Is she with Donnie?

Have they facilitated anything?  Just asking.

Is Pragnesh still in the country?

How much has been taken out of the accounts?  Where has it gone?

Who allowed this to happen?

Looking forward to the next instalment in RoF, perhaps with some answers to the above questions.

🙏

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