The taxman cometh.
Metamorph Law has vowed to survive a winding up petition issued by HMRC.
The company owns and operates over a dozen law firms including north-west-based Linder Myers, and the business currently employs approximately 650 people. RollOnFriday revealed two weeks ago that Metamorph had failed to pay its staff on time and that its chairman had offered to resign.
In a statement addressing the action taken by its creditor, Tony Stockdale, the founder, CEO and Chair of the group, said, "We are working to resolve matters with HMRC and we are very confident of a successful outcome".
He said the group had "a supportive group of shareholders and management team who remain committed to our strategy".
"That said, the action of HMRC was a shock to everyone. As a result we will be making a number of changes in the business to avoid a repetition."
A spokesperson for HMRC told RollOnFriday, "We are unable to comment on identifiable businesses due to strict confidentiality rules", but said, "We take a supportive approach to dealing with customers who have tax debts and only file winding-up petitions once we’ve exhausted all other options, in order to protect taxpayers' money".
Metamorph's accounts for 2021 are months overdue and Stockdale offered to resign over the group's perilous financial situation, according to an email he sent staff in August.
"All of you have had your confidence in both myself and the business rocked", said Stockdale in the email, adding that he was stepping down as CEO but staying on as chairman, and that shareholders had agreed to pump in emergency funds to avert any immediate danger.
Metamorph responded to RollOnFriday's request for comment in September by picking out Stockdale's assertion that six individuals had taken on "enhanced roles" to lead the business. "No enhanced roles were ever undertaken as referred to in [Stockdale's] email", said the company, adding that the six people did not have "any role whatsoever in the financial or strategic management of the business".
The reaction to the current situation from people purporting to work at Metamorph was mainly one of fury, and largely unprintable. "How often should he be allowed to get things wrong and 'escape'", fumed one source. "Faith now with the SRA and the Pensions Regulator", said another, who hoped they would "restore some credibility to the individual firms under the group before it’s too late".