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Not paying Peter to pay Paul, because Peter showed no loyalty by quitting.


The Metamorph Group is closing down one of its law firms and plans to transfer three others to another firm in the organisation as part of a major restructuring, RollOnFriday understands.

Departing staff publicly excoriated Tony Stockdale, the Executive Chairman, for his company's "utterly disgraceful" failure to pay their wages, and for his refusal to respond to their calls for help.

Beaumont Legal, Linder Myers, Telford-based SLC Solicitors, and Donnelly & Elliot Solicitors in Gosport are all set to be terminated in their current form according to an email seen by ROF, affecting hundreds of employees.

In an email sent on Monday and leaked to RollOnFriday, the Metamorph Group's board informed staff that the assets of conveyancing firm Beaumont Legal and MLL Limited, which owns Linder Myers, SLS and Donnelly & Elliot, would be sold to Knowles Benning, another Metamorph firm.

In an email sent on Friday morning, also leaked to RollOnFriday, management informed staff that following discussions with potential investors, the SLS, Linder Myers and D&E brands would survive through the additional transfer of their IP to Knowles Benning. 

On Monday, the board informed staff that Metamorph, which owns 14 legal brands, was in talks with a "major organisation" to take a minority equity stake in the group before Christmas, which it said would provide "meaningful funds to assist with continued growth and development".

Stripped of management spin, 'growth and development' may mean simply staying afloat. A number of Metamorph firms including Beaumont Legal and Linder Myers have been issued with winding up petitions. HMRC is known to be one of the creditors which has taken action, while Connells Limited, an estate agent and property services company, has issued a winding up petition in respect of Beaumont.

Beaumont Legal's disappearing act was a surprise to clients, according to a source. "They were given 5-7 days' notice that they had to agree to the change", they said.

Rumours are now circulating amongst Metamorph staff that if a deal to save the business can't be struck, the group will enter liquidation on 11 November. One source told RollOnFriday that numerous staff had "walked and are currently looking for alternative employment" after they opted not to transfer across to Knowles Benning under TUPE.

Staff reported not being paid in October, and affected employees who were working out their notices took to LinkedIn to express their frustration publicly.

"Payday is it?" wrote Luke Kirk, a case handler at Beaumont Legal. "I wouldn’t know once again metamorph haven’t paid me on time".

"Stockdale would you like to break radio silence and update your stressed and financially impacted staff or are you going to continue to ignore MY DIRECT MESSAGES and several emails you have been sent along with other directors within the company?" he asked.

Kirk described the decision to withhold pay from departing staff as "utterly disgraceful treatment of dozens of ex-employees" and a "targeted attack" on those who had quit the business.


luke

Not happy.


Shanice Ahmed also used the networking platform to implore Stockdale to pay what she's owed. "We would be grateful if you could respond to our emails, or at least provide a general update/explanation to your staff! This is the third month running you have failed to pay your employees on time", said the case handler. 

"We have all noticed that this month, coincidentally, only the employees who have left the business or are working through their notice period haven’t received their wages. The wages that we have worked hard for. Worked hard in unbearable conditions because you couldn’t afford to fix the heating system in the office!"

Ahmed described how "we were forced to sit through shifts in coats and scarves, with hot water bottles so our hands were warm enough to type", in an indication of where Metamorph is making cuts to save money.

"This is utterly disgusting; we have been patient for the last 3 months and still, no communication from you or anyone else on the board. When will we get paid?!" demanded Ahmed.


ahmed

Not happy either.


Kirk told RollOnFriday, "I personally am unable currently to afford fuel or food and am living off what I have at home which is a quickly diminishing stock, with no idea of dates, times, reasons".

"This is before the fact my pension is 6 months behind being paid", he added. "Given I have left the company I feel I’m shouting at a brick wall and they’re literally laughing at my suffering".

He told RollOnFriday that after Metamorph received ROF's request for comment, he was paid.

Metamorph previously failed to pay its staff on time over the summer, prompting Stockdale to send a mea culpa to staff announcing his resignation as CEO (but not as chairman) and promising an injection of shareholder cash. 

Metamorph did not respond to requests for comment.

This story has been updated to reflect the email sent to staff on Friday and leaked to ROF, which also promised that pension contributions would be brought up to date in November, that everyone would get a raise of at least 5% on 1 December, and that all those still at the company on 31 March 2023 would be paid a £500 “loyalty bonus”.

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Comments

Concerned v2 04 November 22 07:47

Have a friend that is buying a property using a Metamorph owned firm. The firm was removed and then re-added to the mortgage providers panel of approved providers which gave the friend concerns. I told him to consider disinstructing firm-M and find other another conveyancer just in case his deposit, although protected, gets held up in potential administration proceedings/liquidation proceedings. Is this ott or would others also be saying the same?

Employee of Metamorph Group Company 04 November 22 08:02

Replying to Concerned:  

I would recommend anyone who is currently a client of a Metamorph Group Company that unless completion is imminent you should find another solicitor.

Anonymous 04 November 22 08:04

It wasn’t just ex employees that were paid late. There were others hand picked [redacted] that didn’t ‘deserve’ to be paid on time. The firm has some fantastic managers that are doing everything they can but under the leadership of Tony and  Board they can’t do anything to help. [redacted] There is complete disregard for the people and the impact this situation is having on them. 

Annoymous 04 November 22 08:29

anyone fancy joining me for diet coke and bag of popcorn for the movie of the century.......

m.thegazette.co.uk/notice/4200406

 

see you all on 11th 

 

Anonymous 04 November 22 08:43

Ah yes “Loyalty”. Wonderful word.

But for our managing partner (firm in a leafy Cathedral City in Hertfordshire just north of London) it’s a one way street.

Can you guess which way the traffic is expected to travel? 

Anonymous 04 November 22 08:54

From the Metamorph website;

In 2007, Bentley Jennison became part of the RSM Network and within a year Tony was on the global board of RSM. In 2009 RSM Bentley Jennison merged with Tenon to form RSM Tenon.

Learning from mistakes

Sadly, RSM Tenon, after Tony had departed, failed due to a combination of differences in culture and poor management and was sold to Baker Tilley. Tony has reflected on his journey and discusses the crucial but practical lessons he has learnt along the way. 
 

It appears Tony learnt little from his past mistakes.  

Anonymous 04 November 22 09:23

I feel very sorry for the staff.  They and creditors are going to get shafted as Tony dumps the debt. 

tony stockpile here.... 04 November 22 09:41

Everyone just get back to work and stop messing about there is sell sell sell to keep going and bill bill bill to keep doing 

Anon 04 November 22 09:56

There are still people as of today, one week later that the staff who hadn’t handed their notice in or objected to the TUPE, that haven’t been paid. 
 

It looks as though even the people who have decided to stay, are now looking for other employment. 
 

The ship is going down. No one will be left. Well done Tony, at least you didn’t have to pay any redundancy money 

Tiny 04 November 22 10:02

Ok guys I'm sorry, I took it too far this time! But you'll get 5% from December and £500 on April fool's day!

Terry Thomas 04 November 22 10:12

TUPE back on, the above brands are not closing, and offers of pay rises and loyalty bonuses to remaining staff. 

oops a daisy... 04 November 22 12:10

new hearing from MLL notice on the gazette issued today

 

m.thegazette.co.uk/notice/4198816

 

are you sure bro your all still getting a pay rise 

 

 

annonymous 04 November 22 12:15

Funny this Tony hasn't resigned from all the law firms still a live director at Knowles Bennings hmmmm is that not the firm they have all had a tupe for 

Luke Kirk 04 November 22 13:14

Terry Thomas - 10.12 - Beaumont legal has literally seized trading and closed for good. It couldn’t be simpler. It’s gone

Anonymous 04 November 22 14:41

The company has grown far to quickly - They just need to shut the doors because the way it is, they wont have any staff to transfer over as they are all looking for other jobs. In my opinion Taylor Rose MW will be investing a lot of money for nothing.... 

Glad to be out 04 November 22 15:53

Sounds familiar.  A repeat of the Tenon days. This is not a game, these are people's LIVES. Shame on you.

Ex Neighbour 04 November 22 17:39

A Beaumont/Metamorph employee made my life miserable for 17 years whilst we lived next door to them. We finally used the post pandemic boom to sell at an amazing price and escape the torment of their abuse of legal knowledge. Knowing they (probably still) have two mortgages with the current interest rate rises, and unpaid student debt, and now probably out of work makes me feel rather smug in my fully paid for mortgage free brand new 4 bed 4 bath detached on a private cul-de-sac whilst they will be struggling in their old tired 3 bed terrace on a main road. I'm sorry for everyone else embroiled in this situation, I've been redundant several times myself, you will ride through the storm and be in a better place eventually. 

Still an Employee unfortunately 04 November 22 18:01

An email went out today saying that Taylor Rose are buying them (since the TUPE with knowles benning isn’t happening) but they have seen how much of a shit show it is and pulled out 

Anonymous 04 November 22 18:05

Staff who have resigned still not been paid. Promises from the Board mean nothing so get out as fast as you can. Will be surprised if they are still trading next week as clients deserting them in droves. Go get em HMRC

I’m gone! 04 November 22 19:05

Colleagues still not paid as at today.  Clients leaving in droves and asking for their documents.  
 

Emails from the Board - who are they exactly?  Promises of big injections of money and 25% of November salary to be paid by 15 November.  At least 5% pay rise and a £500 bonus that will be paid in March if you’re still there!  
 

No communication from HR, little or no communication from regional heads!  You couldn’t make this up and as the total disregard for people’s lives, don’t even start me on that.  The only good thing is the camaraderie amongst the staff.  We have all supported each other. 

Atray 04 November 22 19:43

@ex neighbour

You'll be pleased to know that nearly all Beaumont employees have found better paying jobs, (hopefully at more stable firms). Don't feel sorry for those who are left, awaiting their redundancy entitlement, which will surely be crystalised soon...

Staffmember 05 November 22 10:28

This is painful to sit through. So much sadness and anxiety, please put us and the clients out of our misery and let the inevitable happen. PLEASE 🙏🏼 Enough is enough, we can’t take it anymore…. 

Last one at Beaumont 05 November 22 15:00

Please can the administrators/liquidators/receivers put us out of our misery and make us redundant?

I Told You So 05 November 22 19:32

I was lucky to get redundancy money when kicked out last year….  The band have stopped playing and are climbing on the stern railings

Anon 06 November 22 10:53

@I told You So.

I think it was the amount of unnecessary redundancies made that contributed to this mess. The amount the must have paid out for Redundancies only to be replaced with more expensive staff under the pretence of ‘restructures’ 🥸

I Told You So 07 November 22 15:13

@Anon         

I think that may be part of the reason yes. They must have paid out quite a sum in total when they closed several of the offices down.  All very very sad..  I really feel for all of the staff left in there.

HighStreetSolicitor 17 November 22 13:30

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.

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