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A quick metamorphosis and it'll all be fine.


Living up to its name, the Metamorph legal group is set to change beyond recognition by putting three of its firms into administration, placing a fourth into a company voluntary arrangement, making redundancies, and renaming itself, RollOnFriday can reveal.

Metamorph owns a network of law firms that is rapidly shrinking in the face of multiple winding up petitions and complaints from staff that it is not paying them on time. 

Three of its legal brands - Linder Myers, SLC Solicitors, and Donnelly & Elliot Solicitors - are owned through a Metamorph subsidiary called MLL Limited, which trades as Verisona Law and was issued with a winding up petition by HMRC scheduled to be heard earlier this week. 

Beaumont Legal, a conveyancing practice owned by Metamorph via another subsidiary called BPL Solicitors, is subject to a separate winding up petition courtesy of estate agency Connells.

Metamorph's reluctance to speak to the press or staff has led to conjecture swirling among its people. "The staff just have no idea what's going on at all" one senior staff member told RollOnFriday on the basis of anonymity. The individual, who has just left the business, confirmed, "I haven't been paid for the last month". 

In an all-staff email this week, the Metamorph Group Board acknowledged that "you all remain very concerned about the future and really want to know what is happening".

"We also recognise a lack of knowledge inevitably leads to rumour", it told staff, stating that "we wish to set the record straight on a number of issues".

The email, leaked to ROF, revealed that Metamorph expects the winding up petition against MLL to be suspended this week, and that within the fortnight it will sell the assets of MLL's three subsidiary firms to Knowles Benning, a Bedfordshire firm it acquired in the summer.

That will be followed "immediately" by the appointment of an administrator for MLL. The board reassured staff that "This is a standard process", which it is, although so is donning oxygen masks when a plane cabin depressurises at 40,000 feet.

Clients of Verisona Law have received an email, a copy of which has been seen by ROF, explaining that it will cease trading on Friday 25th November, and requesting permission to transfer their client funds to Knowles Benning.

Beaumont Legal is now closed and will enter a CVA "immediately", said the board. Its staff have already been transferred to either BPL or another entity in the Metamorph web of companies called Metamorph Group Services. But they are going to have to move again, this time to Knowles Benning, because in the next two weeks both companies will also be put into administration, said the board, which emphasised that the SRA was "fully aware of the actions to be taken".

Metamorph has told staff the upcoming changes mean that "looking forwards our business will be different", which is putting it mildly.

"It will be smaller", with "a much lower cost base and fewer offices", said the board. Flagging imminent redundancies, it said "this means less people in management and support services", and that "all those affected will be advised as soon as possible".

There will also be a "revamped" group board and a new CEO to replace the much-criticised Tony Stockdale. And a "hiving up" of "other subsidiaries", which may mean that several of Metamorph's remaining law firm brands will disappear. "One of the benefits of this being much more straight forward [sic] arrangements with conveyancing lender panels", spun management in its email to staff.

Having tossed a live grenade into the room, the board told everyone to get their heads down and carry on working: "We recognise inevitably there will be some disruption but let's all try to keep this to a minimum please", it chided. 

"There is now a clear way forwards for our group", concluded the board, and "having had the opportunity to learn some hard lessons" - and "despite the inevitable challenges ahead including a probably prolonged recession" - there was now "the chance to rebuild our business".

The board slid in the news that it was going to change identities at the bottom of its wide-ranging update, noting that it was going to "replace the Metamorph brand".

Shedding its tainted image epitomises the company's fresh direction, although when ROF asked Metamorph what it was metamorphosing into, the company declined to comment. Help it out by suggesting a fitting new name in the comments. Just remember that Snickers, Cif, Starburst, Meta, and Aviva have all been taken.

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Comments

Anonymous 18 November 22 09:11

Reported BPL to the SRA today on behalf of a new client who has moved from them but the SRA seemed deeply disinterested as long as someone from Metamorph is answering a phone number given to us. When this number was rung you get a stock message that concerns are being passed on to the relevant person. In the meantime no one is actually answering the phone at BPL and you get a message saying they are Knowles Benning Solicitors. It then just rings and rings with no answer - an absolute disgrace that simply by having one employee on a number that no one knows about unless they ring the SRA to complain, they can apparently fend off any kind of intervention. In the mean time clients hopes and dreams are being destroyed as their mortgage offers expire at never to be repeated rates.

What about the clients? 18 November 22 09:15

In this whole debacle it is the clients who I feel sorry for, just as much as the staff.

Surely, one must ask the question. Is Metamorph acting in their best interests? If not, where are the SRA?

Relieved Ex-Employee 18 November 22 09:16

I’m totally baffled as to how they’re allowed to do this. 

So let me get this right, Tony Stockdale is no longer a Director of Metamorph but is a Director of Knowles Benning?

So Metamorph got in to debt, so he’s transferred all the staff to another firm to start over, rack the debt up with that and then do the same again?

Is this allowed? Are HMRC really happy with this? Are the SRA not mildly concerned about this? 
 

This is totally crazy 🤣 Is this man for real?

Response to Anyonymous 18 November 22 09:33

@Anonymous - if the client suffers a loss as a result of negligence, then complain and progress  a negligence claim.

Insurers may then reconsider whether they provide future cover…

Anonymous 18 November 22 09:40

The SRA are an absolute disgrace.

This is when they really should be stepping up and taking action against Metamorph and Tony Stockdale. Metamorph are effectively refusing to transfer client files to other firms by simply ignoring requests. 

That is so much worse than a trainee leaving a client file on a train. But is the SRA dealing with it? No. 
 

If anyone at the SRA reads this, be ashamed at how much of a waste of space you are.

Cinnamon The Show Pony 18 November 22 09:41

This article is a bit messy. Looks like you’ve combined four or five rumours and actual events, and come out with a traybake that isn’t quite right. Not for the first time. 
 

(I am not Tony, just a current employee)

Basil Brush 18 November 22 09:53

Cinnamon The Show Pony 18 November 22 09:41

The story really only quotes what is in the email (which I was sent - were you?) - what are the things in it that are only 'rumours'?

Repoman 18 November 22 10:35

Creditors must be pissed off. But typical in this country. Try pulling this off in the old country. 

Metaman 18 November 22 10:50

Creditor, the email from the board says Beaumont  is entering a CVA: “Beaumont, other than completing cases on hand, has not traded since April nor taken in new work. All staff were transferred to either Bpl or Group Services in April. Its final, relatively small number of cases were transferred to Knowles Benning recently. It is therefore now closed and will enter & cva imminently.”

A dark day 18 November 22 11:06

As someone close to a employee of one of the closing firm, I can’t begin to explain what a shower of shite the staff, clients and related parties have been subjected to. Ran by a bunch of self-serving morons who take their salary, yet the low paid lawyers and support staff remain unpaid and are worried about how to meet their mortgage payments, let alone Christmas. You should be ashamed of yourself. To the SRA, why you have not intervened and facilitated a managed closure is beyond me. Nothing short of disgusting.

Unwalt 18 November 22 11:20

While there is a caustic cultural image of the proverbial lawyer, the profession generally has a good reputation in real life. Stuff like this does damage.

In the shadows 18 November 22 11:25

Just who is sending the emails from "Metamorph Group Board"? Is it someone who resigned as a director?

ex BPL employee 18 November 22 11:36

Having left BPL over 6 years ago (smartest career move I every made), I don’t have any insight of what monumental pile of badger excrement they have to shovel through now.

But I can confirm that the quality of some of the management during my time there was as charismatic as my left toe and as confident inspiring as a British government going through Brexit.

It’s unbelievable Jeff 18 November 22 11:38

Employee until very recently - the lack of communication and the constant changing of plans would have been comical had it not had such a detrimental effect on staff and clients.  One minute there’s a TUPE transfer, then it’s delayed, then it’s cancelled and finally reinstated to take place weeks after originally intended.  
in the meantime the company has [taken] thousands of pounds from employees by way of pension contributions with some cock and bull story about Legal & General not crediting the funds they hold to individual account holders.  
I’m appalled at the lack of intervention by the SRA - we’ve had no access to the court so applications couldn’t be progressed, no access to HMLR so conveyancing matters could not complete - how is this not to the detriment of clients?  Come on SRA fix up and do the job you’re paid to do because this ABS is tarnishing the reputation of traditional legal firms.

Finally if anyone is still working there - get out and as far away from Stockdale as you can and let the clients move to a firm that cares!

SRA Phoenix 18 November 22 12:12

Those of use with longer memories will recall the article in the Law Gazette on 4 November 2016 around the collapse of Assure Law with debts of more than £420,000 which said the unsecured creditors were unlikely to see any of their unsecured debts totalling £350K. I understand the same players (Mr Stockdale et al) were directors of that collapsed firm too?  Clever accountancy and phoenix startups may be the way of the commercial world (and indeed the legal 'profession' post Legal Services Act). But do the interests of unsecured creditors and staff really count for zero when regulators weigh up the public interest? Based on the apparent willingness of the SRA to turn a blind eye to the current situation, it certainly seems so!

Yorkshire Girl 18 November 22 12:54

From an ex employee who when she was made redundant considered herself to be one of the luckier ones, the management is absolutely disgusting, and its a case of my way or the high way…[redacted]

What makes it worse is that one of the other Directors is a Solicitor, he should not be allowed to practice. 

If you are still working at the firm, get out now, there really is life outside that place, and its much much better. 

Mr John 18 November 22 13:42

i don't have that much sympathy for the firm's clients. You employ the firm that gave you the cheapest quote on the internet to do your conveyancing, what do you expect?

Wish I knew... 18 November 22 14:33

Mr John

Do you really expect a conveyancing client to conduct FDD on a law firm - who is to say M were actually the cheapest - disappointing to see such a lack of empathy - surely you are not a lawyer?

tony stockpile here....again.... 18 November 22 14:43

Whoever gave you a picture of me as a monster I am absolutely fuming I didn't give permission for that to be used please remove it forthwith. I mean I hadn't even had chance to have a shave!

papercuts 18 November 22 17:06

Never trust a law firm with a trendy name.

SRA will be too busy with more important matters tbh - Christmas (can I even say that?) party season, lots of patriarchy policing to be done

Anon 18 November 22 17:58

In least surprising development ever Metamorph has this afternoon filed notice of intention to appoint administrators..

Anon 18 November 22 22:29

BPL trading as Verisona Law … the solicitor was awful ,didn’t respond to emails , she and her ‘ team ‘ were  always at meetings when I tried to make contact . Lied about status of house purchase. I used them for conveyancing as they had been recommended to me by a financial advisor. My house purchase has to be completed by December , little hope of finding another solicitor in time . What a shambles . 

Roland Rat 19 November 22 12:38

Wakefield staff are wondering whether to go in on Monday... we are a solicitors practice with no solicitors left! Just make us redundant Tiny!

New name please 20 November 22 09:50

Quality Solicitors

High Street Lawyer

Assure Law

Blakemores

Linder Myers

Oh no, they've all been used already

Informed by who? 21 November 22 17:38

So the clients have now four working days to find a new solicitor according to the email.

If they don’t and fail to respond there is an ‘informed consent’ clause that allows their file to be transferred, ultimately without their consent to another shambles firm with the Group.

I am pretty sure this isn’t legal? In the UK there it’s a right to be able to choose your solicitor, not be forced to move because you either can’t find another in time or have missed an email!

Anonymous 23 November 22 20:07

And today we get letters advising that we are under consultation for redundancy.

Sinking Ship 24 November 22 19:43

As an ex employee who saw this all coming like a freight train and jumped that sinking ship a few years ago (best career decision I EVER made), my heart truly goes out to all the employees. So close to Christmas and in the current economic climate they must be stressed beyond belief! 

Gobblepig 25 November 22 08:14

@Anonymous 18 November 22 14:48

"Practice" is a noun, and "practise" is a verb. You practise law within your law practice. Well, actually, I hope that you don't, you ignoramus. 

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