mighty

Stockdale and team.


The disarray within the Metamorph group continues to wreak havoc on its staff and clients, according to multiple sources and leaked emails from within the network of firms. RollOnFriday understands the Solicitors Regulation Authority is considering taking action imminently.

Metamorph has been attempting to restructure its business by moving assets from companies which are the subject of winding up petitions to Knowles Benning, a firm it recently acquired.

Cashflow issues have plagued the group for months and staff have repeatedly been paid late.

Last week Metamorph failed to prevent the court appointing an official receiver, and the High Court made a winding up order against MLL Limited, the Metamorph entity which operates its Verisona Law, Linder Myers, SLC Solicitors, and Donnelly & Elliot Solicitors brands. As a result, staff at the affected companies - including those at the entity which provided several firms in the group with accounting, HR and payroll services - were immediately made redundant.

In an email sent last Friday, CEO and founder Tony Stockdale told staff, "to the shock of our advisors, Pinsents, at the petition hearing on MLL the judge rejected the appointment of Macintyre Hudson", the accountancy firm which was the group's preferred liquidator.

Stockdale said in the leaked email that "in my opinion after the events of this week the 'old Metamorph' is no more", and sketched out a future in which the ownership structure of the business would be changed to give staff a stake. "How this will work needs to be resolved but my own view is the employees generally should have 20%", he suggested.  

Stockdale concluded, "Finally I apologise in having to write this. On Tuesday I did not expect for one moment we would be in the position we now find ourselves. I do believe a new business under different ownership, management and brand can and would work for all of you".

The remaining Metamorph staff showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm for their CEO's latest vision this Wednesday and copied in the entire group to beg Stockdale and director Simon Goldhill to make them redundant so they could obtain some kind of financial security. 

"Hi Tony and Simon", wrote one unpaid lawyer. "I cannot get extensions on any of my bills due to still being employed".

"Some of us don’t have the luxury of families that can help us with our bills. Essentially if I don’t pay my landlord rent, he is going to ask me to leave and there is nothing I can do about that. I am in a situation that I could be homeless in just a few weeks!"

"Please help us out here", implored the lawyer. "Christmas is not even an issue now, I am just worried about having a place to live in a few weeks...Please show us some mercy".

Another Metamorph employee responded, "I, like many of the staff are in exactly the same predicament".

The employee told Stockdale and Goldhill, "If you do nothing else for us at least make us redundant so we can move forward, at the moment not only have we not been paid since October but we are obviously not going to be paid for December either, where does that leave us all?  You are essentially playing with each and every one of us and ruining lives and messing with our mental health".

A third lawyer replied, "I echo the thoughts below but in all honesty do you care? I think not".

"Let’s roll back a few weeks when you sat on your throne of lies and spoke with the staff of [my firm] about the situation and our bright future post TUPE including that we would actually get paid!" he said. 

Alleging that Stockdale had said it was "just business" in response to a query about not paying suppliers, the lawyer asked, "Is not paying your staff just business? Is making staff mentally ill and physically ill through stress just business? Is ruining families Christmas’ just business? [Is] putting staff at threat of repossession/eviction just business? The tears of children in households because parents couldn’t afford Christmas just business? To you probably".

He demanded of Stockdale, "Do the right thing and place [Knowles Benning] into admin as well so we can all at least claim from the government and maybe, somehow, limit the damage you have caused us. It may already be too late for some but it’s the least you can do. Why the hell did you transfer us to an entity that could not afford to pay us?!"

The lawyer described how it was becoming impossible to act for clients: "We have lost the vast majority if not all of finance, HR, compliance and IT. You have lost the majority of your fee earning staff and their critical support". Claiming that "the business can no longer function", he alleged that client money that should have been transferred to Knowles Benning from MLL "is now frozen leaving clients exposed...How the SRA have not intervened is beyond me!"

Stockdale joined the conversation on Wednesday to deliver the news that accountants Macintyre Hudson had replaced the official receiver. He predicted that the breakthrough would lead to an investor, whose identity he has not disclosed, injecting funds into Knowles Benning. Asked if that meant staff would be paid, Stockdale replied "I believe so", prompting one lawyer to query how that was possible, since "as I understand it, the majority of the various finance teams are redundant and have not taken up new roles".

A Metamorph lawyer confirmed to RollOnFriday that many accounts staff had declined to rejoin the firm, and that there were "only HR apprentices left who cannot help", and "no IT". The insider said that court fees could not be paid as a result, so clients were being told to pay them again direct to counsel "simply to protect their claim". 

"I have now taken the decision to start advising clients that we can no longer act due to insufficient resources, but I am not sure I will be able to complete this task before my last remaining team member walks out", said the lawyer.

Staff expressed disbelief the regulator had not taken action: "Client money is stuck and we have literally no staff to work on the cases. Clients (that are agreeable) are paying twice for disbursements due to money being stuck; how can the SRA not be interested?"

An SRA spokesman told RollOnFriday, "All firms have an obligation to close in an orderly way as laid out in our guidance. If we become aware that a firm is not adhering to our rules, then we can step in".

Individuals purporting to be clients have also been in touch with RollOnFriday, some of whom used the comments section of last week's article to try to glean information about the status of their matters.

"Does anyone know what happens to client assets?" asked one. "Used a solicitor under the [Metamorph] umbrella and they were due to pay the estate funds from the probate process to me as the executor on Friday".

The impact on staff appears to have been considerable. "Mortgage defaulted on, unable to buy the children Xmas presents, borrowing money for fuel and to keep electric on and applying [for] a food bank parcel", said a Metamorph employee.

"I’ve seen colleagues reduced to tears because they can’t get an update", commented another. 

"How our days look at the minute", said a third staff member: "Spending 8 hours of your day in an office with your crying colleagues and scared clients shouting down the phone at you. Relationships with referrers and clients that have been built over many of years now ruined. Over a hundred emails a day, none from Tony or the Board, just abusive comments being called a 'thief' and 'incompetent' by desperate clients". 

Metamorph did not respond to a request for comment.

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Comments

Anonymous 09 December 22 08:34

90% of lawyer and staff financial woe stories require a small violin but this one is genuinely awful. We can but hope that those at the top also lose everything.

Look at the bigger picture 09 December 22 08:44

Please can the liquidators do a full, thorough analysis of where the money had trickled up to? Not the past 6 months, the past 2 to 3 years?

Stockdale and Goldhill are counting on apathy.

Relieved Ex Employee 09 December 22 09:25

Does Tony really think he can keep fobbing his staff off with these false promises and ideas that things can continue carrying on? 
 

I’m starting to think he’s not all there. He’s clearly a [redacted] but perhaps he is ill and is delirious. Not only do the SRA need to intervene but Stockdale needs to be assessed by a doctor by the sounds of things.

 

If the SRA don’t do anything soon than surely they’re going to be partly held responsible for the employee’s mental states. It’s not fair. It’s absolutely awful and sickening to see.

 

No-one should be put through this!

Anon 09 December 22 09:44

This is genuinely awful for staff and clients. I cannot believe that the SRA is allowing it to happen. 

Anonymous 09 December 22 10:05

"...moving assets from companies which are the subject of winding up petitions..."  Are they aware of s.127 IA 1986?

Anonymous 09 December 22 10:06

I have no idea what the SRA is doing. They should shut all of those companies for the best interest of clients! 

Anon 09 December 22 10:08

This is an absolute nightmare! There are no words to describe the damage Tony and Simon have caused between them. How can you not do the right thing by your staff at this stage. Concede defeat and go retire. Give us the opportunity to salvage something from this and move on. DON’T BE SO HEARTLESS!!!!

Distraught employee 09 December 22 10:10

It is now the 9th December and the lowest paid staff who do not have the luxury of savings have not been paid or received an update on when we will receive our salary. Why is no-one helping us????

Wise escaped employee 09 December 22 10:11

If and hopefully when the SRA investigate the shambles of Metamorph, perhaps they ought to also look in to the failings of those that allowed Stockdale and his motley crew the opportunity to take them over. Was that acting in the clients best interest? Absolutely not!

We live in a world now where we can see everything on the internet. Tony Stockdale has cropped up in news articles every few months for a few years now. There were certainly negative news articles available before ALL of the takeovers and these would have been readily available to all partners/directors and management.

Take a look back at the De Montford University articles from February 2019 whereby Stockdale led the committee and awarded individuals unprecedented pay rises. Alarm bells rang for all employees but those making the decisions were just not interested! But they should have been! 

Why was it just the general employees against the takeover? This needs to be investigated.
 

SRA Phoenix 09 December 22 10:15

So the SRA spokesman says they can take action but only if they find out a firm hasn't closed in an orderly manner? Um....well, I hate to  break this, but looking at the comments on here...

In fairness, suppose it is the Christmas party season. Maybe inappropriate kisses under the mistletoe are currently higher priority than the collapse of a volume conveyancer?  What an awful time for staff and clients caught up in this.  

not a stockpile fan 09 December 22 10:37

Hoping ROF next friday you bring festive cheer and confirm the SRA have intervened its needs to be done. 

I saw the statement of affairs on companies house last night for Beaumont ABS astonishing the amount of money they owe looks like since they took over not one bill has ever been paid so where has all the money gone?... [redacted]

Anon 09 December 22 10:39

This situation is making me suicidal and no-one cares. Upper management aren't fighting for staff and are simply sorting themselves out. No-one is responding to emails. We just want to be paid what we are owed and then we can walk away from this hell.

Anonymous 09 December 22 10:48

Obligatory OMG the yellow power ranger post.

Frankly a wonder that my member remained intact through to adulthood.

Unfulfilled SRA Drone 09 December 22 10:50

"Maybe inappropriate kisses under the mistletoe are currently higher priority than the collapse of a volume conveyancer?"

Who would disagree with this?

You try being married for a decade then come back and see how you feel about this issue.

Single economic entity 09 December 22 12:04

The sheer amount of intercompany loans and shared bank overdrafts should make the liquidators earn their cash!

Simon Goldhill's Silence 09 December 22 12:05

Goldhill is also a director, and his name isn't showing up in these stories. We're hearing nothing from him about ongoing plans, despite him being the only director of the current trading legal firms, and apparently our head of compliance.

 

Anon 09 December 22 12:31

Always remember that Stockdale and his gang asked staff members to take 20% pay cuts during the height of the pandemic. So far as I am aware, nearly all agreed. Miraculously just a couple of months later, Metamorph had acquired another unsuspecting law firm. What a coincidence...

Lydia 09 December 22 13:43

Dreadful.

Advice for other lawyers from me is if our firm is more than 3 days late ever in paying salaries go right out and find a new job. Too risky to do anything else.

Luke 09 December 22 14:04

If you are still working there and still haven't been paid properly for the last couple of months surely the time has come to just stand up and walk out.

Don't waste any more of your life at this disaster. Cut your losses and seek any form of alternative employment just to get you through the next few months and then look to rebuild. 

Accountability 09 December 22 14:08

There is no “another investor” it’s a stalling tactic. Put the money in yourself Tony. I’m sure you have never missed paying yourself or the other owners!! You have no idea sat in your nice BIG warm house whilst admiring your cars. PAY THE STAFF !!

Anonymous 09 December 22 15:12

"Cut your losses and seek any form of alternative employment just to get you through the next few months and then look to rebuild."

Solid advice.

You can have an OnlyFans profile set up by teatime. Christmas is saved.

 

Word to the wise, pick something really niche. People pay way more for stuff involving feet, rubber garments, and elaborate rope assemblages than for the vanilla stuff that has some form of procreational value.

You think you have to get your kit off and interact with an improbably large male appendage to make the big bucks, but you actually make more by keeping them on and talking obscure filth to perverts.

A friend told me.

Educated criminals work within the law 09 December 22 16:59

  Hell, Hell, Hell and Hell Again; The unauthorised biography of Anthony Leonard Stockdale. 

"As ugly as his teeth" The Sunday Times

"A jaw-dropping insight into the void of a corporate psychopath" Jordan Peterson 

"Shocking" Robert Peston 

"A great insight into a financial genius" Liz Truss

 

Anon 09 December 22 17:11

Where are mine and other staffs wages. Why did some receive them and others not. They should have all been paid.  You have completely destroyed what was a wonderful firm “Verisona” with very caring and wonderful staff and Directors. I really hope you lose everything and know how traumatic and stressful this has been and at what should be a wonderful time of year. 
 

Anonymous ex employee 09 December 22 18:02

Stockdale and Goldhill why don't you admit you are absolutely useless at owning and running a company, and you have no money and put it all in liquidation for the sake of the staff that are left.

You both deserve to be locked up for what you have done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anon 09 December 22 18:31

To anonymous 15:12

your reference to staff getting an OnlyFans page is both insulting and wholly unhelpful - how dare you make light of the problems the staff are facing in this very difficult time.

Rose Tainted Fairy 09 December 22 18:41

To the SRA - It was a learning curve having direct contact with you on files - something that I have been trained to fear throughout my career.  Now, I have lost so much respect for you.  Shame on your lack of action, I know for a fact you had enough evidence to step in.

To clients - the staff are really sorry for the situation you find yourselves in.  Please know that we did everything we could for you before we had no option but to abandon your files.  Contact the SRA and lodge a complaint as this seems to be the only way that anything will happen with your file.

To other lawyers - Everything you have read on ROF is to be believed.  And on the ground much worse.  Lessons to be learned by everyone.  Please support any ex-metamorph staff as it has affected everyone in some way; even the strongest were regularly breaking down, myself included.

To all my ex colleagues - Please reach out to someone if you aren't able to cope and get support.  If you haven't yet claim any monies due from the government, even if you are still technically employed.  CN numbers have definitely been issued for MGSL and BPL.  Thank you to everyone who has set up Whatsapp and Messenger groups to keep everyone updated, especially as the lack of communication continues.  Despite the horrific experiences we have shared I am so very proud of how everyone came together.  Much love, nothing lasts forever and there will be new doors opening for you in the future.

To Senior management - Even though your hands were tied and there was nothing you could do to change circumstances, I am disappointed at your lack of communication.  There was nothing stopping you from sending an email out except the fear for your own positions.  You made it much worse and lonely for the staff because of this.  

To Tony/Simon - I mirror all previous comments over the last several months and won't repeat them now as I don't think you take any notice.  I would request that you do some serious self reflection on right and wrong before you continue, and understand that just because something isn't necessarily illegal it is still immoral and is the wrong thing to do.

 

Anonymous 09 December 22 23:03

Shit law firm goes on acquisition spree and then struggles to pay staff, drawings and repay capital...Ince.

Jen 10 December 22 00:52

@ Anon 09 December 22 10:39 - to hear that they have made you feel suicidal is deeply upsetting. I cried for 2 months straight, every single day when I was made redundant by them last year whilst I was pregnant, drove into a deep depression and have suffered terribly with anxiety ever since and have been trying to build my confidence back up. And what they did to me is Nothing in comparison to what they’ve done to you all, it’s actually disgusting what they have done. Please keep talking to your friends/ family and other colleagues, it does get better ❤️‍🩹 

I really hope they do the right thing and allow everyone to move on. The best thing about Metamorph was always the staff. Take care of yourselves everyone xx

Anonymous 10 December 22 06:52

It is very sad to read the comments of so many distressed staff on here. Please know that support is available (both mental health support and financial support) via two specific charities for people working in the legal profession - Lawcare and The Solicitors Charity

https://www.lawcare.org.uk/ 

https://thesolicitorscharity.org/supporting-you/

Anonymous 10 December 22 09:06

@18:31 - what a reckless and heartless thing to post. I am the only one here trying to help these poor victims of corporate malfeasance, by way of OnlyFans, and you're desperately trying to close it down and damn them to the purgatory of the Job Center.

Shame on you.

To remind you, these are people at the sharp end of a terrible situation, they probably won't even be able to afford a Terry's Chocolate Orange this Christmas. Quality Street is completely off the table for them.

So quite how it can be wrong to show them the boundless opportunities of peddling fantasies largely predicated on slapping various parts of people's anatomies with wooden paddles, with no need to possess or otherwise engage with an impractically large male member, is beyond me. Those willing to do it in fancy dress can earn double.

If you're choosing between that and a role in Asda, it's paddling time.

Annoymous 10 December 22 10:21

Truly sad situation for all involved, you will get some money back in the end but whilst many of you will likely struggle over christmas - we all know that Tony will be tucking into a top quality free range Turkey ( Probably imported). 

 

But I say to you all do the right thing and report any cases to the SRA yourself of clients being effected or money held. This does not seem from the outside to be a controlled wind down; The SRA might be slow but once they start they can be pretty good. I can only imagine the poo poo that Tony will be telling them. 

 

Many of you will be scared to report to the SRA but they are not the boogie man; this situation needs to be resolved before vulnerable clients or employees do something unthinkable. 

BrownLawyer 10 December 22 11:12

If this was an Asian or black owned small or even medium sized firm, the SRAs reaction would have been far different. Just look at the way SRA deal with Asons compared to the way it is treating metamorph. I am convinced the SRA is institutionally racist.

Luke 10 December 22 11:42

If your still there now, employed by any of these companies I have to ask why.

 

There are plenty of jobs about, and this hasn’t just happened it’s been brewing for several MONTHS.

 

anyone foolish enough to still be there or be thinking you’ll get redundancy is a fool and frankly I have no sympathy. I left in October and the writing was on the wall then.

Not just Little Toe and Pieman Goldswill 10 December 22 20:07

Granted the responsibility for this cluster f lies directly at the feet of Little Toe and Goldswill but from what I have seen the senior management have been absolutely shocking. They have offered no support at all to staff and have generally spent the time since this all started trying to feather their own nests and make as much money out of this for themselves as is humanly possible. Yes the two directors are at fault but the senior management should be ashamed of themselves for their actions. 

Anon 10 December 22 23:16

To Luke 11:42

Most staff members still working have made a choice to stay and are acting in the clients best interests. Some others continue to come in because they have no choice. We are not fools we are professionals!

 

Loan Shark Terry 12 December 22 15:36

So..... £2.3 million quid owing by Beaumont ABS Ltd alone.

Someone is due a visit.

The darling of HMRC 13 December 22 08:15

Why does it always end the same way for Tony? 
If you don’t pay HMRC they get upset.  I suspect “one trick pony, Tony” has rattled their cage before and this time they gave him no leeway.  

Anonymous 13 December 22 14:04

Support is only available for solicitors from those charities you have kindly listed. Those who are support staff or paralegals have no-one to help them and are the lowest paid staff members. I was turned away. 

Carbon Lara 13 December 22 14:45

A big well done to the SRA who acted quickly and today intervened all the closed firms after they were put into liquidation and it's too late to do anything to protect the clients other than make sure their money is safe, while leaving the trading ones still trading and open to accept business. 

Anonymous 13 December 22 21:15

@14:04 - what are you talking about?!

Support and financial assistance is only a moment away, especially for support staff.

All you need is an internet connection, a pair of shiny tights, some creative patter about how sore your feet are and what a temper it has put you in, and a wooden paddle*.

You can be coining it in by the end of the week. You'll wonder why you ever spent any time taking dictation for a living in the first place.

Obviously I am suggesting that you generate an OnlyFans profile and use it for the creation and broadcast of fetishistic content. Thereby making your fortune. If that were in doubt.

Can Lawcare do that for you? Can it?

 

 

*One of those wooden chopping boards with a handle will do in the first instance.

G.Reed 14 December 22 16:51

Thank you Steve and Tony of knowles benning for selling their company into this sh** .Knowing metamorphs trouble beforehand. The staff there must be so thankful for your greed before concern . 

 

One eyed Jack Meoff 14 December 22 18:14

ROF set up a just giving link for verified staff.  There’s a lot of sympathy out there and a week of giving before Christmas should raise quite a bit and reduce the misery.

I will put in £100 as soon as it’s live.  
 

Whilst we enjoy the merciless piss taking - it’s now time to do something decent. 

OMG as if 14 December 22 20:23

See Tony has let his new puppets run his recently formed companies take over whilst he still pulls the strings 

 

https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/officers/PiVFmFz3kNvAzSi-lN2Qa_Jhdgg/appointments

G.Reed 16 December 22 00:34

Thank you Steve and Tony of knowles benning for selling their company into this sh** .Knowing metamorphs trouble beforehand. The staff there must be so thankful for your greed before concern . 

 

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