Was a shipping firm, now expert in restructuring.

Ince has been yanked back from the abyss for the second time in four years.

Trading in the listed firm’s shares was suspended in January after it was unable to produce its financial results, and after repeated delays it collapsed into administration

Axiom DWFM wasn't put off by the messy accounting and snatched up the once-prestigious shipping firm.

In a press release sent out just before the bank holiday weekend, Ince announced that it had been bought in a pre-pack administration by the less well-known firm, which employs 250 people across 14 UK offices.

Axiom said that Ince will be run as a separate entity, and promised that “existing remuneration structures will be honoured”, and that other “material liabilities of the business will be funded”. It also confirmed that all Ince Gordon Dadds staff have been transferred into the newly-created Ince & Co under their previous terms of employment.

The deal enables the new owners to leave behind debts accumulated by Ince’s current management team in what the press release described as a “partner-driven transaction”, as opposed to a ‘necessity-driven capitulation’.

The current Ince leadership team is, so far, staying put. Donald Brown, who joined Ince from Arden Brokers and then replaced Adrian Biles as CEO last year, took the opportunity to point the finger of blame at the Biles era when the rescue deal was announced.

“After taking over the management of the PLC group, it quickly became apparent that we needed to address a series of poorly structured and executed transactions and expansions”, he said, glossing over the fact that one of the terrible decisions was the purchase of, erm, his business, which Ince bought for £10m and then sold seven months later for £1m.

Accepting the Oscar for Best Editing, Brown said, “We thank our clients and colleagues for their patience and above all, their continued loyalty and support after the uncertainty of recent months. We would also like to thank the non-executive directors and the Board of the PLC for its support through what has been a challenging situation and the Axiom DWFM team for their clear thinking and prompt action after they entered the process with the Group’s administrators. We look forward to moving forward, together".

Jennette Newman, Managing Partner of Ince Gordon Dadds and now Ince & Co, said that “Since joining the firm in December 2021, I have enjoyed enormously working with our teams and clients”, which, given the almost unbelievable parade of catastrophes the firm has stumbled through during that time and culminating in its implosion, suggests a serious sadomasochistic streak.

Pragnesh Modhwadia, the founder and Managing Partner of Axiom, described falling for Ince’s lustrous brand, just like Gordon Dadds before him. “When the opportunity came to acquire a business of the calibre of Ince & Co we were eager to engage and are delighted that the Ince & Co team shared our enthusiasm”, he said (translation: they had no choice).

An insider told RollOnfriday that the joke going round the office on Tuesday morning was that Ince partners "think the DWFM in Axiom DWFM stands for ‘Doesn't Want to Fire Me’”.

Another pessimist, burned by months of uncertainty, said that Ince had come out the other side "with the same dynamic duo in charge, and promises of a bright future, and increasing turnover from £48m per annum to £70m per annum, against the headwinds of recession, closure of offices in China, Singapore, Gibraltar and Germany, a passive endorsement from Cyprus, but nothing at all from either Greece or Dubai”.

However, ROF can recommend Ince's new owners wholeheartedly. Axiom’s chairman, Jonathan Metliss, was our Pandemic Lawyer of the Year in 2020 thanks to his splendid lockdown blog, which tracked his deterioration from jolly neighbour into a bearded wildman who got banned from the local One Stop.

Everyone with shares in Ince looks likely to take a bath over their investment. Ince PR declined to confirm the shares were worthless, but pointed ROF to the company's market announcement stating that it would be delisted on 13 May unless a new auditor was appointed. As such, ROF would like to apologise for advising readers, repeatedly, to buy Ince shares.

LU iconLet top firms and companies ping your app when they like you for a role. Whether or not you're actively looking to move, keep one ear open by downloading LawyerUp on the App Store or Google Play.


Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 05 May 23 08:12

Quote from Legal Futures:

"Axiom DWFM’s partners include several well-known figures like chairman Jonathan Metliss, a renowned City dealmaker and former partner of the legacy Ince Group firm Gordon Dadds; David Sedgwick, ex-chief executive of Clarke Willmott and a former director of small firm consolidator Echelon Law and the defunct Cubism Law; and Guy Barnett, former chief executive of Birmingham firm Blakemores, which was closed down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2013, and founder of the shopping centre legal marketing brand Lawyers2you."

That'll be the same Jonathan Metliss who was also a partner in the roaring success that was King Wood Mallesons? 

Looks like the car crash guys are back at the wheel, baby!

Anonymous 05 May 23 08:47

It will be interesting to see what is being paid for the firm. How do they afford to do this? Where is the finance that must be needed come from.  Ex Gordon Dadds personnel to the fore and in the background on the same day the administration was being raised, Biles registering other Ince named companies. Makes you wonder if Axiom are simply a Trojan horse for the Biles crew. 

Anonymous 05 May 23 08:47

Never invest in a listed law firm.

Keystone being the honourable exception - which seems to be going from strength to strength - and keeps its lawyers happy judging by RoF figures, which is always a good strategy in my view...

Shocking 05 May 23 09:31

Does the SRA have anything to say about a group of partners who are financially incompetent and bring the profession into disrepute every couple of years? 

Anon 05 May 23 11:31

Oh dear.  The "Don't Want to Fire Me"  ("DWFM") part of the name has already been abandoned, so perhaps there will be a substantial redundancy round on the cards at "Axiom Ince Ltd". 

They would no doubt do themselves a huge favour by dumping the "CEO" Brown, who looks like he will be fighting on a number of fronts on shareholder claims for misleading reports to the AIM Market since he came on board. 

With hindsight, people are questioning why the substantial share issue presentations to prospective investors in the past 10 months (which raised £millions of funds, now apparently completely lost) didn't mention the haemorrhaging of Partners, running for the doors ever since the ill fated Arden deal brought him and his loser chums into the Tower.  An inadvertent oversight?  [redacted] Strange world, "Aye".

"Ince" so bust so many times they have renamed the firm 3 or 4 times in just over 4 years.

Anonymous 05 May 23 12:03

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!

Charge for the guns!” he said.

Into the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”

Was there a man dismayed?

Not though the soldier knew

   Someone had blundered.

   Theirs not to make reply,

   Theirs not to reason why,

   Theirs but to do and die.

   Into the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred...

Anonymous Anonymous 05 May 23 12:31

Supply and demand, basic economics. As the price increases, supply rises. When demand for legal service decline, prices should decrease and/or firms stop trading. New legal organisations will incorporate AI with much reduce costs. Existing Legal firms will need to reduce prices or simply fold.

Anonymous 05 May 23 12:40

i guess the UK government will never get back those furlough payments Ince took... and then paid out a management bonuses....

Anonymous 05 May 23 13:49

Let’s all trade like this. Run up huge debts, then slam into a pre-pack, shrugging off the debt, pay for the deal with the firm’s WIP, then do the same thing all over again! Why not? Paying creditors is for mugs!!

Are you reading this, SRA? How many firms has Biles pre-packed now? 

Steven Tyler and Brian Harvey 05 May 23 19:06

Axiom DWFM is not to be confused with listed firm DWF (formerly known as "Davies Wallis Foyster", which is presently heading in a downward tailspin like most listed law firms - presently worth less than half what it was a year ago - and the living embodiment of Aerosmith's Love in an Elevator - "Livin' it up when I'm goin' down, Love in an elevator, Livin' it up 'til I hit the ground...").

On the plus side, Axiom DWFM has an office on Hoe Street in East 17 which pays an homage to both hiphop and 1990s boy bands. Outside, it's raining...

Going down 05 May 23 22:14

This is just a warm up for the Administrator.  Who is next?

A clue.  I’ll take a P Bob.  

Anon 08 May 23 20:40

Maybe this lot will buy up the rump of DACB that is being sold off.

A match made in Private Equity heaven. 

Deep Throat 11 May 23 14:53

You may pillory the CEO but he is in line for one of the top awards at the annual Lawyer Awards - he has masterminded a deal which takes Ince from 'Harrods' to being a part of a chain of 'Pound' Shops.This may seem easy but less so when you are not a lawyering do not understand how law firmware run and make money.

The Sheriff 11 May 23 16:08

Who will win the race of the spin-offs: Stann Marine in the London claims consultant problem, or Heuvels Law in Hamburg?

Related News