ince police

Wonder who's top of the list...


Axiom Ince staff have been left to fend for themselves as the firm tells clients it is closing and police launch an investigation.

Departing partners have informed clients that the business is winding down and “will cease to trade in the near future”, as ROF revealed on Monday.

Axiom inflated rapidly by purchasing Ince and Plexus at firesale prices after both firms went into administration. But then it emerged that £64 million had been lifted from Axiom’s client account, apparently courtesy of its founder and then Managing Partner, Pragnesh Modhwadia. 

When the shortfall came to light, the SRA intervened into Modhwadia’s practice and those of two other partners and Axiom Ince fired him. It has obtained a freezing order over Modhwadia’s assets, although almost all of the money appears to have been spent.

The SRA said it had been liaising "with relevant law enforcement authorities in relation to this case”, and this week the Metropolitan Police confirmed that detectives from its Specialist Crime unit "have launched an investigation and enquiries are ongoing". It said no arrests had been made.

SRA Chief Executive Paul Philip said this week that “there appears to be a fairly blatant act of dishonesty” but insisted that the SRA had “done everything it should have”.

The plundered firm is now in freefall. Ince & Co's website has been switched off and teams of lawyers have been leaving as quickly as they can. So far seven have left for Birketts, seven for Irwin Mitchell, approximately 17 to Wikborg Rein, 10 to Greenwoods, and 30 have gone to Horwich Farrelly. DWF confirmed that it has also taken 25 people who handle Direct Line Group matters.

Some solicitors left behind were clueless about their bosses' departures until they vanished, according to sources: “The partners who walked did not even tell their teams they are going. It’s a shambles”.

They’ll need a strong drink before reading Horwich Farrelly’s “absolute doozy” of a press release announcing its hire of Jennette Newman, who was the Managing Partner of Ince & Co, the Managing Partner of Ince Gordon Dadds, and the Head of London at BLM before that. 

Despite the fates of all three firms, according to Horwich Farrelly, “Jennette’s leadership skills include a track record of delivering operational transformation, business innovation and the development of successful teams as well as excellence in client service delivery”. 

“She certainly operationally transformed BLM and Ince”, said one of her former employees.

ROF asked Horwich Farrelly if the press release was tongue in cheek. To its credit it responded, explaining that “Jennette had a long and successful career at BLM, becoming Head of London Markets Business. She was headhunted by Clyde & Co where she occupied a similar role until headhunted by Ince & Co. At Ince & Co Jennette headed up, and grew, the insurance division despite market turbulence. There she inherited business decisions not of her making and she agreed to come out of her career role to help the people and the business as it faced those issues", said a spokesperson.

Hundreds of Axiom Ince staff weren’t as fortunate as Newman and are still stuck there, having not been afforded the c-suite’s advance access to evidence of how desperate the situation really was, they said.

Trainees and future trainees have been particularly hard hit. “The SRA has done nothing for us (despite this being partly their fault)”, a current Axiom Ince trainee told ROF. “The Law Society have also not helped. There is the training principal who is trying to help the trainees - however there is only so much one [person] can do”.

Another said, “I have also lost my training contract. I was due to start next month and the firm have been no help whatsoever in helping me find another one elsewhere. They have abandoned us”.

The SRA said that it deals with the administrative aspects of training contracts but not the employment side, which was where the Law Society stepped in. When contacted by ROF, the Law Society pointed to a statement of support it provided to trainees when Ince imploded in April

Gently quizzed on whether it had anything to say about the larger group impacted by the current collapse, a spokesperson said, “The support we offer for the trainees is summed up in the linked resources, and includes pastoral care which can be accessed through the Law Society helpline. Our career clinic also offers a free one-to-one 40-minute consultation with a legal career coach and we would encourage all trainees who are seeking further support to get in touch with us”. 

Its help may not be needed by everyone. “As a junior that’s just recently left from Plexus/Axiom, I wouldn’t be surprised if my cohort decide to totally change career paths”, said a disillusioned escapee.

Axiom Ince employs approximately 400 business services staff who described being "utterly abandoned" and betrayed by supervisors they trusted. PAs, some with decades of service under their belts, have been “dumped by their partners and left behind”, said insiders.

Internal communications from the Axiom Ince board are “non-existent”, according to sources, who said they first learned of the firm's impending closure when they spotted the template email being sent to clients, or read it on ROF.

Staff are now coming to terms with the reality behind the messages of community they were fed. “When it's all going well it's alllll about mental health, but when sh*t hits the fan it just shows how much they actually care about you”, said an employee.

Axiom Ince offices have become “a dumping ground of leftover files" while those who can are simply walking out of the door, claimed an insider: "people are leaving within an hour of resigning”.

Although Axiom directors were “telling the media that they are helping staff find new jobs", it's "utter bs", claimed a source. "No-one has offered help. It’s utter chaos and none of our emails are being answered”.

Several insiders voiced concerns about their pension contributions, which they said have been taken from employee salaries but not paid to pension accounts “since June”.

“There is nobody at Axiom prepared to explain where the money has gone. This is very concerning as some of the contributions were significant.”

It is not just employees the firm has ghosted. “Axiom have been avoiding their clients for months. I answered hundreds of their calls", said a receptionist. "It was getting a bit difficult when clients were asking if I had stolen their money, when I knew they had!”

The Board did not respond to ROF's request for comment.

Update: ROF understands that staff were informed by “The Board” on Friday that no further advisory work can be undertaken by legacy Axiom and Plexus staff from Saturday, as their professional indemnity insurance policies expire on that date.

Having met with the SRA on Friday, it was established that “members of the firm employed by Axiom DWFM and Plexus must not provide or undertake any legal advisory work”, states the email passed to ROF.

”To do so would be a breach of your professional obligations and may also render the fee earner personally liable”, continued the email.

“We regret writing to you to inform you of these developments and indeed, the current status of the firm”, it concluded.

Update 2: On Monday, the firm informed staff that the SRA had intervened, it was appointing an administrator, and staff would be receiving notices of redundancy that day and the next.


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Comments

Anonymous 29 September 23 08:14

It's so hard to have any faith/trust in the industry after all this

Can those who got out be described as phoenixs about to rise from the ashes, or as cattle waiting in lairage? 

Only time will tell.

Anonymous 29 September 23 08:23

Axiom Ince is the epitome of how NOT to handle a failing company: limited Comms, services failing left, right and centre because they aren't being paid for. They've not even given staff the courtesy of redundancy notice! They know the place is falling apart, they've already made it clear they want people to go elsewhere which is when they should have started redundancy consultations!

The only people left behind now are essentially those who stand to lose a significant redundancy payment which, as inferred previously by past articles and comments, Axiom seems keen to not have to deal with.

A failing company is not an excuse to neglect your staff and leave them up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Anonymous 29 September 23 08:30

Where's the SRA intervention to transfer the files in an orderly manner? This sh!tshow of a regulator said on 27 September, that it did not intervene in the whole firm last month “because it appeared to be a deliberate act of dishonesty and the other partners had nothing to do with it”. 

However, he added, this “doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future”. There are rumours that such a move could be imminent, with the firm said to be on the verge of closing its doors anyway.

WTAF? You never get ALL the partners involved in a fraud anyway (unless of course it's a West End firm where dodgy stuff is their quotidien). Unbelievable - the SRA refuses to intervene even when closure of a large firm is imminent and it was run by someone who nicked £64m from clients? 

https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/we-could-yet-intervene-in-axiom-ince-sra-boss-says

Heather Small 29 September 23 08:36

Jonathan Metliss, what are you doing today to make you feel proud?

Mr Wise 29 September 23 08:36

Anyone (and I know there's a lot of us) affected by pension contributions being deducted from salary, but not paid into a pension scheme (as we hadn't been enrolled into one post-TUPE to Axiom Ince), should report it to the Pensions Regulator. Click on the 'Scheme Members' link on their website and there's another link entitled 'Report concerns about your workplace pension'. I suppose it could also be reported to the SRA (though a fat lot of use they are) and to the police (surely it's theft?).

 

 

Ghost of Gordon Dadds 29 September 23 08:51

Newman is not blameless but let’s look at the list of shame here -

Andy Iyer - £3m from the Ince client account now looks like taking home a couple of paper clips 

Jan Heuvels - managed to guide Ince & Co into the terrible financial position that led, in turn, to an acquisition by…

Adrian and John Biles - were managing a (relatively) successful consolidation, albeit ruthless […], of 3 decent Mayfair firms before insanely deciding to merge them with a massive, storied, and clearly failing shipping behemoth with which their existing business had no synergies whatsoever.  They also neglected the IT system to the point that a Ransomware attacker could walk in and demand millions.  Shortly before this the Biles’ appointed…

Jennette Newman as MP - who RoF has had its say over today already.  The Biles also decided to buy Arden, which spectacularly ill-advised transaction introduced to the PLC Board…

Donnie Brown - who managed to source a PE investor that the business spent weeks talking to before suddenly selling to Pragnesh after, apparently, one meeting in late April 2023.

An honourable mention must also go to BDO whose failure to make head nor tail of the 21/22 accounts the Biles’ left behind resulted in shares being suspended and the failure of the business to raise any further cash on the market.

What a mess 29 September 23 08:59

So is Prags still walking the streets? Surely not, after his admission that he has taken £64m? I have no words - I am utterly baffled if this is the case?

Feel very sorry for the staff members. Prags is a con artist beyond my wildest imagination.

Interested observer 29 September 23 09:16

Horrible* Farrelly - not surprised 

Sad 29 September 23 09:19

An ignominious end to a once illustrious shipping firm.

Here’s hoping Modhwadia will spend the next decade behind bars with all his assets seized and distributed to the victims. 

Bitter and Twisted 29 September 23 09:19

If any of "The Directors" on whose behalf Internal Comms are being sent are reading this blog, WTAF is  going on and when are you going to have the decency to come clean and tell your staff? Why have we been reading about the imminent closure of the firm in the press and not having any consultations?  For goodness sake, it's even on Reuters !

 

And when will you come clean and explain what you have done with the pension contributions you have deducted from staff salaries and the employer's contributions?

Disgruntled of Ex Plex

Anonymous 29 September 23 09:23

It's been a horrible year. First the end of Plexus. Then the crinimal purchasers.

 

The only thing keeping me going at the moment is the knowledge that - come next year - I will hopefully be settled in a new job at a reputable company and that I will never have to think about the words Axiom, Ince, or Pragnesh ever again.

 

Better is around the corner for everyone who deserves it, even if it doesn't feel like it at the moment. 

Dragging on 29 September 23 09:27

Will there be a drama series about all this. I do hope so.  

‘Based on true events. There was actually no need to change any details for dramatic purposes.’

Happy Friday to all the support staff still at Axiom, still going into the office, still working their backsides off to the bitter end…. Whenever that may be. 

Anon 29 September 23 09:36

This whole disaster has highlighted the incompetence of the SRA. They need replacing asap.

Anonymous 29 September 23 09:42

It seems to me that any negativity around individuals should be aimed in the right direction - namely the very specific individuals under investigation.  Possibly also the SRA, in order to get them to step up as a regulator.

The Ghost of Gordon Dadds 29 September 23 09:52

The story of Ince and Plexus until April/July 2023 was one of bad management.  Sadly, it happens, it’s bad, it harms lots of people, but it’s not criminal.  The story of Pragnesh’s Axiom outfit appears to have been possibly a criminal one for a very long time before that.  I think a little more about where he came from and how he built his sole practice up to buying DWFM Beckman, not an insubstantial West End name, is in order.  

The travails of Ince and Plexus have been well rehearsed on here.  Who is Pragnesh, why and how did he end up suspended and under police investigation?  There’s precious little about that. Without wanting to suggest the other names are blameless he seems to be by far the primary culprit here.

Shocker 29 September 23 09:59

The SRAs role in this debacle needs to be reviewed judicially. They are not answerable to anyone else. This series of events has done more than anything that I can recall to damage the profession and bring it into disrepute. And still they are making excuses and trying to deflect any blame away from themselves. It is completely shocking. All they are good for is hounding the junior end of the profession and dealing with the most obvious forms of “dishonesty”, such as when a troubled trainee admits to backdating a document when her boss asked her to or the like. Or someone who uses a parking badge they are not entitled to use. Bad behaviour but more naughty than morally bankrupt. But the really serious and most unethical behaviour is always more clever than that and harder to find and at senior levels. For that, the SRA won’t have a clue and are routinely manipulated by the profession.
 

I should know, I spent five years working in the investigations department of a city practice, where we advised firms under SRA investigation. It was a bit of a running joke that the SRA would just accept what they were told and the practitioners would run rings around them. The advice to clients was dressed up a bit but it was always “never admit to anything that may breach the SRA principles” because only if you do, will they take action. They are too timid otherwise to take a firm on especially a major firm and to try and prove anything the firm had not admitted to. Even the SDT would lose patience with the SRA and tell them to grow up pair. I saw it more than once. The quality of people at the SRA is generally low unless you get a really senior person. Think of it like calling up a call centre if you contact them. Many of the people who work for them have no investigation or legal experience at all. They won’t even understand what you are trying to explain to them. Proper reform is needed.

Do some research 29 September 23 10:09

Greenwoods!!? That went years ago!! 

Wise after the event 29 September 23 10:09

Businesses don’t always work. Even law businesses. The day they stop paying you in full, on time, is the day you need to start looking elsewhere.

Toby Stackdoyle 29 September 23 10:10

Amazing how many parallels there are to the Metamorph collapse.

You folks staying to the end for your redundancy and arrears or wages - good luck. We had to ultimately collaborate with our former colleagues to pay to force the winding up of Knowles Benning before the redundancy service could step in.

If I were you, I’d start clubbing together now.

Heffalump 29 September 23 10:17

It's a minor point by comparison with the fate of employees, but I hope someone is going to look after the documentary records of Ince & Co, which are (or at least were) significant for shipping and insurance litigators.

eg from the decision of Andrew Smith J in The Kos [2010] 1 Lloyd's Rep 87:

"...Mr. Eder, assisted by the industry of the costs department of his instructing solicitors, Messrs Ince & Co, put before me a minute of discussion of the Admiralty Solicitors Costs Draftsmen Association in September 1982, which includes a report of a decision of the Admiralty Registrar, Registrar Rochford, who had considerable experience in this field..."

Anon 29 September 23 10:27

All this must be absolute carnage for the clients who’s money has been misappropriated - they won’t even have a collective voice as by nature client details / names are confidential. Sad 

Anonymous 29 September 23 10:27

Enough is enough - government inquiry into the SRA!!!

mmmmmmmmm 29 September 23 10:32

17 lawyers have gone to the shipping disputes/international arbitraiton team and finance team at Wikborg Rein - probably a good fit and just a smidge more stability.

To the board 29 September 23 10:33

I know up to now the board have been shambolic in their approach but now is the time to do the decent thing to those left behind and call in the administrators and wind the sh*t show up so colleagues can at least claim their redundancy. Actually even better would be to now make everyone redundant and transfer their redundancy payments immediately to them.

I know I’m slightly dreaming but do this one decent thing for all those worried about how they are going to pay their rents, mortgages , put food on the table etc

For those thinking ‘leave why are you still there’ it’s not always that easy to find another job for numerous reasons so please keep you harsh comments to yourself! 
 

I truly hope everyone is ok and better will come out of this eventually.

Do the decent thing board and make things slightly bearable for all those worried sick about their lives. 

Ye Olde Regulator 29 September 23 10:49

Hard agree with @Shocker 09.59. This is a massive regulatory failure, and I am surprised it isn't more of a scandal.The size of the potential client account shortage here, if accurately reported, dwarfs the monies available to the SRA Compensation Fund (though it may exercise its discretion to cap any claims or not pay out at all). The net result may be a call on the profession to fund the clean up.

The fact the SRA  authorised the Axiom takeovers suggests they are simply not equipped to assess risk adequately. The SRA Board should be encouraging some honest reflection by the SRA's Chief Executive and its senior leadership team.

Disgruntled 29 September 23 10:59

Employers have an obligation to pay contributions into a pension plan on the 22nd day of the month following the deduction from earnings.  Employers must make good outstanding contributions and any investment loss.

All employees should be making breach notices to The Pensions Regulator.  TPR has enough teeth behind it to mete out at least a little punishment. 

Employees should also protect their position by contacting ACAS regarding potential claims for unlawful deduction of wages in respect of salaries and/or pension contributions not invested.

Administors 29 September 23 11:09

Everyone asking to call the administors. Who, the same f***wits who sold ince ? Don’t tell me the same law firm who admin the sale also ? 
 

Prags was a wideboy from day one. Everyone should have seen this a mile off. 

Anonymous 29 September 23 12:01

"The partners who walked did not even tell their teams they are going. It’s a shambles”. I can confirm this as someone who left the company over a week ago. The Supervisors who I have been working with for nearly 2 years didn't bother to say bye! Then again, I couldn't expect anything different from them. Yes, supervisors, you may be educated as you have let us know, but you have the intelligence of a goldfish swimming in coke.

Maybe they should book a meeting room and use teams (one of them didnt accept the meeting invites from parties and clients and wondered why they couldn't join the meeting FFS!), write it down in their notes, copy them into multiple lever arch files according to category of lark and f**k right off! I feel so sorry for their poor PA's who have done an amazing job for them and have had to put up with their intolerable nonsense over the last 4 months. Not only their PA's but other support staff when files were being sent to other firms. "But we wants that file, its ourrsss" like gollum with the ring of power. It may be the file you work on, but its the client's file. If the client wants to send it out then that's the end of it. So pack the case up and send it out rather than mucking about trying to keeps your precious. 

Anonymous 29 September 23 12:01

Staggering to hear how much he was able to get away with before it all imploded. So sad for those PAs and support staff - the last people anyone thinks of every time. 

AML? 29 September 23 12:42

Not my area of expertise, and I know nothing more than what is in the public domain, but isn’t the natural consequence of using £64m from the client account to buy firms that:

1. the £64m are proceeds of crime. 
2. the use of the £64m is money laundering?

And isn’t there an obligation to understand the source of funds?

The Ghost of Gordon Dadds 29 September 23 13:06

@AML? 29 September 23 12:42

It appears that more source of funds checks are made on house buyers than purchasers of law firms.

There is a big issue here.  The sellers of the assets of both Ince and Plexus to Axiom were, technically, the administrators of both firms, Quantuma and Interpath respectively.  What the requirements on insolvency practitioners to check the source of funds is, I don’t know but if any money moved through Pinsents client account, that should have been checked.

The SRA considered Axiom DWFM a law firm in good standing and thus fit to carry out the business of a law firm as successor practice.  The source of funds doesn’t seem to have come into it.  

I have heard, however, that there may be an allegation of forgery forming part of the current Met Police investigation.  If that’s then the source of funds may have been hidden by the bad actors.

The consideration for the assets of Ince was no more than £2m or £3m in any event.  Where the vast bulk of the money has gone is anyone’s guess.

Anonymous 29 September 23 13:19

Doing bad deals to preserve management's hide set in under Heuvels. 

Look at yourself SRA 29 September 23 13:29

Totally bored of this.  SRA you basically fucked up.  You’ve allowed firms to fall into admin so you can wash your hands from dealing with interventions etc. You say firms should not continue if their are running at a loss.  You can tell axiom was loss making from the accounts and you know from a simple search Prags net worth is -£2m. Doesn’t add up. Don’t tell me he brought you guys champagne and a trip to vegas too ? 

Anonymous 29 September 23 13:35

Curious as to why the police are only getting involved now and why the SRA took so long to do anything? The money went 'missing' a long time ago and has now been spent. 

Feel very sorry for the support staff and junior lawyers here, a terrible situation for them that could have been handled better. 

Totally not the SRA 29 September 23 13:43

I think you’re all being terribly unfair.

The SRA have stated, quite clearly, they they did all that they could. That should, surely, be both an end to the matter and a great comfort to us all.

I don’t think any of us can imagine how much hand-wringing, tut tutting and ‘something must be done’ing they have gone through. I’m certain that lessons are being learned, even as we speak. 

 

Anon 29 September 23 13:48

I’ve worked at numerous law firms over the years, ranging from 30-200 employees. At NONE of those firms did the directors, board members or owners have direct access to be able to remove funds from the Client Account.

I’m not for a minute defending him and he deserves everything coming his way and more, but are we honestly meant to take at face value that this is simply a case of Modhwadia having his hands in the till? Did they not have any kind of Finance Department to regularly authorise payments and check balances, a Compliance Team to supervise, etc? Did none of the other directors have the capability and responsibility to periodically check balance sheets? And what about the auditors?

 

ShootyOriginal 29 September 23 13:56

He may be gunning for some kind of insanity defence.

It’s the only explanation for investing in Wolverhampton’s Mander Centre. 

Incredulous of Slough 29 September 23 14:15

Ghost of Gordon Dadds @ 08:51, what was said at that meeting in April that was so convincing and where did the money for it come from?

I was speaking with a lawyer recently who was enraged at the damage this has done to her profession.  She was questioning changes to the rules that would prevent authority from being invested in one individual, even if he was the owner.

She was also concerned about insurance premiums.  If the money has gone, and the SRA can't meet it, the insurers have to.  That means all your premiums go up, even if you can get clients to trust you again.

Sole man 29 September 23 14:43

Please would you all leave the SRA alone. They are extremely busy right now checking that my Sole Practice is sufficiently diverse and inclusive.

SRA incompetence 29 September 23 14:53

The SRA did not object to the sales to Axiom Ince and it ought to have done so. It knew enough at the time to raise objection and scupper the sales.  It elected not to and that is why it has proven itself yet again to be a dreadful regulator which focuses on the little things, the woke things, but not the things that matter. 

 

Dumbfounded Client 29 September 23 14:55

First-hand experience of this fiasco shows that client account funds are unsafe.

The funds held in the client account for our family apparently are missing. Neither Axiom’s directors nor the SRA have given us any comfort or timeframe.

Axiom say that their PI insurer has not responded to any claim, but (despite several weeks’ chasing) no updates are given and details of the insurers are not disclosed. Axiom also say the client account reconciliation will take months. In the meantime, they refuse to pay out anything.

The SRA Compensatory Fund is discretionary. It is a fund of last resort (only potentially available for claims if all other avenues are unsuccessful) - presumably this will depend on the PI insurer’s response, the outcome of the client account reconciliation and what assets can be recovered from Pragnesh (which may take years). It is subject to a £2m cap but only certain types of client will be potentially eligible to claim. Will there be enough funds to pay claims?

This is totally unsatisfactory and the reputation of the legal profession undermined. I feel for very sorry for all remaining staff, but client’s position needs to be quickly resolved. Why is the situation not in the mainstream press?

Ghost of Gordon Dadds 29 September 23 15:08

@Incredulous of Slough 29 September 23 14:15

The issue by the end of April 2023 was, as I understand it, that the PE investor had been dragging his feet and the PLC board, having notified AIM etc of an intention to appoint administrators weeks earlier, was under increasing pressure to get a deal done.  Prags said he could complete that week, which he did, and make some additional investments like opening new overseas offices, so his offer was accepted over the PE outfit.  That is what I have heard anyway.  

The other problem with the PE investor, I was told, was that he had not made a good impression on the partner group - obvs PE is a hard nosed industry and some of them didn’t like what they were being offered.  Prags, like many criminals, was very charming (at least in comparison) so he came in almost overnight.

Anonymous 29 September 23 15:34

Who are the clients who parked £64m with a law firm for such a long time that the guy was able to buy properties and other law firms with it? Are they taking action to get their money back? If not, why not? Other than the poor support staff this is an weirdly victimless crime right now.

Anonymous 29 September 23 16:25

This company has stolen over £100,000 from our late grandma's estate, and we have no idea where to turn to even start to recover any of this. My grandma worked her entire life to make sure we had something when she was gone, and now we've been left with nothing but stress and heartbreak. 

Take Action 29 September 23 17:02

I am a client. I can’t afford to take action as all my money has been stolen! Are you offering to help?

who are the clients who parked £64m with a law firm for such a long time that the guy was able to buy properties and other law firms with it? Are they taking action to get their money back? If not, why not? Other than the poor support staff this is an weirdly victimless crime right now.

RIP HF 29 September 23 17:12

To quote the fabulous, delusional, and downright two faced […] on the teams call when Axiom Ince took over Plexus “this is a fantastic opportunity to expand your practice internationally”. What planet does […] think we live on mars, jupiter, or clearly praganus. We are mainly working in PI with insurers based in the english jurisdiction. What a red flag from someone who clearly gets paid to talk crud. Atleast it made us chuckle along with the name Axiom Ince. Of course […] had already resigned, we all called it, along with the so called […] aka crock of crud. If people in the industry can’t not see a complete lack of integrity and credibility walking down the street they deserve everything they get. I’m sure there will be some tongue in someone’s cheek at […]. RIP […]

 

Nomad 29 September 23 17:43

Just had an email telling us how to claim from the government. 
 

with an attachment about cv and interview tips. 
 

what a fecking insult.  
 

go feck yourselves !

Seriously laughing 29 September 23 18:08

Wow!  Comms on a Friday after 5pm…go get jobs…claim from this and that!  Support services being left, and with no thanks and goodbye from most fee earners, whilst still helping clients and those who have gone

I’m off to find a job in a laundry..clearly worked for Praggers (widow twanky) and all those who knew!!  Thanks for the helpful interview tips! 

Those remaining have years is loyalty and support..do better “directors” whoever you are and stop the silence! Get a grip..and give the people left some way out so they at least can move on! 

 

Mr blobby 29 September 23 18:36

Words fail me to be honest 

 

Mr blobby 29 September 23 18:45

I seem to recall there are 13 directors 

Why?

I was involved with a company with much higher turnover that had a quarter of that 

I genuinely do not see hie it is possible for 64 million to go missing with out any one noticing 

unless of course they were involved or total idiots 

Anon 29 September 23 19:08

As a previous employee of Ince & Co this is very sad to read.  I hope the partners who have already "jumped ship" to other firms, reach out to the support staff still stuck in limbo.  PAs of original Ince & Co.  Some of whom have completed 30+ years of service.   Please think of those staff and ask your new company if there is anything they can do to assist in employing these dedicated people.  Good luck to you all and such a shame

LMAF 29 September 23 20:10

I was made redundant by Ince due to the pandemic, I now think I was lucky, just wish I had sold my tiny shareholding 

Former employee 29 September 23 20:42

There is a lot of support for Ince and Plexus lawyers it seems who are all being offered jobs elsewhere. There is concern for the support staff. But what about the original axiom staff, i haven't heard anything about where they are going. I know the law society like to help the big firms and smaller firms/ lawyers from those firms get ignored. Axiom was just a high Street firm in edgware at first and those long standing lawyers deserve to go somewhere else too.

Anonymous 29 September 23 22:07

I can't draw any conclusion from the latest 'comms' other than that Axiom plan to drag this out as long as possible until someone physically forces them to close.

And given they are now bizarrely sending out tips on how to claim from the government for unpaid wages (?!), it really is impossible to take anything else from this but that further wages to staff will be unforthcoming. 

And yet they won't lay people off either. And they won't close down..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anon 30 September 23 07:55

Surely this is an easy crime to solve. All of the money must have been transferred through bank accounts and all the Police have to do is to check the dates and amounts and follow the money. Supposedly there are 2 years of bank statements, so plenty of evidence, and the banks can provide the transfer destination. 

The statement that all of the money has been spent is ridiculous. How can you spend 64 Million over 2 years and not remember what you spent it on. Unless of course, Prags is so out of touch, that he spent 5 Million on changing a light bulb, and was ripped off himself. There must be others involved in this fraud. 

AML? 29 September 23 12:42 sets out 2 key points, involving proceeds of crime and money laundering. If a UK bank allows a transfer of say 10 Million to an overseas destination, then does that involve a crime and money laundering by the bank ? If so, then the bank can pay all of the compensation and case solved

 

Anonymously Anon 30 September 23 08:40

@Mr blobby 29 September 23 18:45

Yes, the number of directors is remarkable given that all the decisions were made by Pragnesh alone.  I was on a teams call with “King Prags” and others in May or June discussing how Ince was to be managed post merger and he said “I’ll take on board suggestions from others but I make the decisions”.  That’s indicative of how Axiom was run and the day I contracted a recruitment consultant.  

What the other Axiom directors did for that title is a mystery.  I have little sympathy TBH.  They were lawyers and should know the responsibilities of directors yet provided no effective oversight. I don’t think they had board meetings even.  I suppose given he owned 100% of the shares he could remove them at will but in retrospect it looks like he saw them as providing useful cover, nothing more.

Anon 30 September 23 09:50

Axion HQ is made up of partners ‘directors’ who sank their previous firms were best n brightest left and many staff made redundant sometimes not paid ! Why would they behave differently now ? Sadly for  innocent staffers Axiom HQ is seen as toxic….

Tonley Struckdole 30 September 23 11:11

Unless the company is in admin/liquidation, the staffers won’t be able to claim unpaid wages for the government, as Metamorph staff found out. And that’s why we had to pay to get Knowles Benning wound up, just so we could get wages that should’ve been paid months before. 

Enough is enough 30 September 23 11:17

@anonymous 29/09/23 22.07

 

Aslong as money is still coming in the wages can be paid meaning they can AND will drag this out as long as they can.

Debts need to stop being collected immediately and all creditors should rally together to get this company wound up once and for all so the poor remaining staff can claim their redundancies / unpaid wages and move on with their lives! 

Lots of people have worked their a**e off for years and will now have to take pay cuts and prove themselves all over again so the least they deserve is their redundancy after this shambolic turn of events! 

I'm told the cleaners walked and now they cant even pay for milk teabags or coffee so why stay open! What's next repossession of water dispensers?!

Martin London 30 September 23 11:43

I have been pissing myself laughing, and at the same time weeping like a heart-broken teenager at the sheer hypocrisy, ineptitude and apathy of the so called professionals, regulator and the scale of the theft, its consequences and that no one knows what the hell is actually going on.                Let me clarify it simply for you:                                  Another well educated intelligent academically capable professional lawyer got lost in ego, vanity and greed when given 'power'; however, unlike the many many others (apart from those involved in the mortgage fraud in Northern Ireland) in the back of the Gazette nicking a couple of hundred grand, this time someone saw that they could nick enough that it didn't matter at all about the consequences, so they did.  As far as I can see, they got away with it (I.e. the money is gone).                                    Why and how?                         It happens a lot when people think they are something but really, like evey other lawyer outside of legal aid or fixed costs, they just a greedy egotistiticalt hustler. Now be honest and transparent about that last sentence, you know it is the truth.              But you cant handle the truth! So, lets blame the SRA for being a shit regulator instead of the profession for being so culturally morally bankrupt that all too often law firms are mere toys of those wielding power, and thus corruptible and corrupted towards any opportunity for self.                                  Lawyers have done to justice what accountants have done to math and all this debacle tells me is that I called it right from day one and am glad to be no longer an authorised practitioner surrounded by all these scummy hustlers and theives masquerading as virtuous professionals....

Creditor of Ince Group 30 September 23 15:12

I would like to understand better the role of Quantuma (second time around!) and Ince’s immediate past senior management (ie former CEO and Managing Partner). Any insights welcome. 

Anon & Co 30 September 23 16:54

All those endless parties (see YouTube ) MIPIM - more than oil sheiks or Oligarchs - inc party for Ince overseas - didn’t anyone in Axiom question these ? The axiom staff n partners deserve, and earned, whatever misfortune befalls them - it’s the clients who are the only victims here - and rest of legal professions (non axiom). 

Anonymous 30 September 23 17:35

I know much of the focus has been on Ince and Plexus as the ones who recently entered the fold, but It’s also a shame that a lot of good legacy DWFM and Philip Ross people (who I know personally) and others are caught up in this but I suppose you should always be weary about who you get into bed with, no matter how desperate your need. In fact they headhunted and attempted to recruit me a year or so ago which I resisted, and I’m glad I did.

They were once reputable practices with some very good well-established clients, who paid good fees. As much as those firms may want to extricate themselves from this mess, de-merge and go it alone, if you’re a client of one of those firms whose money has been put in Jeopardy I think you would have to be very sanguine to give them a second chance. Basically I think this has probably trashed the reputation of a lot of good, honest, decent people.
 

As for PI/insurers, surely they don’t pay out in the case of dishonesty/fraud as has happened here? I mean £64m is a hell of a sum to replenish, hopefully some/most of it can be recovered from Pragnesh. 

Implied redundancy? 30 September 23 18:07

Is there such a thing as implied redundancy? Fee earners can no longer carry out advisory or litigation work ie. fee earn. Are the fee earners now not redundant anyway as their role no longer exists? Or do they have to be expressly told? 

SRA 30 September 23 18:26

The SRA has brought the whole legal profession into disrepute. It was under their watch that Modhwadia managed to misappropriated £64 million between May 2021 and July 2023 without being spotted by the regulator for two years in a row, in their annual audit on Axiom’s Client account. Sheer incompetent and sleeping on their job.

bad Guy 30 September 23 18:43

Ungrateful Captain Coward has hardly been seen since his London boss’s practice was terminated by SRA. who brought him back into law practice from ten years of the wilderness. No leadership at all.

Anonymous 01 October 23 09:26

Biles. The most aptly named person. 
 

Ince staff could write a book about the absolutely embarrassing acquisition, appointments and behaviour of Biles and his favourites that was the beginning of the end.

Thing is, he won’t be losing a moments sleep. People like that never do. 

The River Runs Red 01 October 23 09:33

I have friends still at Plexus. They tell me that some of the Partners have been convincing them to stay for about 9 months now. First it was 'the firm is in good financial health and Olivia knows what she is doing' then it was 'Don't worry Keoghs will buy us' and finally 'Axiom Ince are amazing. What an opportunity. We are all going to be able to diversify and do private client work'. 

Many were convinced not to TUPE to other firms with the work transferring out. These same Partners, led by, let's call him [x], then left to go to HF without telling anyone or taking many of these people with them. 

These people have as much blood on their hands as anyone......

Tone Deaf 01 October 23 09:38

I understand HF have acquired an office in the same building as Plexus Leeds to house those moving between the two firms. This move will allow the 30 or so lawyers, most of whom are senior, to wave at the unfortunate junior and support staff that they left behind. 

I am quite sure there is plenty of other office space in Leeds. This is tone deaf, in particularly bad taste but perhaps worst of all, not surprising. 

Anon 01 October 23 19:42

@Ghost of Gordon Dadds 29 September 23 15:08

Anyone who thought Pragnesh was charming and had any ability whatsoever needs their head read. It was plain to see from day one that he was a crook by the way he was splashing his cash around. You all got taken for a ride by a has been. Pinsent Masons and Quantuma and all the others involved in this have a lot to answer for. They can’t even do basic due diligence on source of funds. 

Boston PI Lawyer 02 October 23 00:27

I was hoping for a press release including the phrases "stakeholders" and "change management." 

FormerInceTrainee 02 October 23 11:09

The behaviour and events outlined here reflect the quality of the human beings “running” (into the ground!) Axiom/Ince/Plexus. These firms were being run by third-rate wannabe executives with little experience and a lot of hubris, selfishness, and greed. In the end, it’s all about a failure of leadership — at Ince, I knew things were bad and saw the writing on the wall when the last experienced adult in the room left in April after years of abuse from the Biles, being stabbed in the back by Jeanette, and being shut out by a threatened and clueless Brown. I feel sorry for those who stayed but they must have known how odious and lacking in integrity and common sense these executives were. Why everyone didn’t run for the hills last spring is beyond me. 

Ince and you, in any catastrophy 02 October 23 15:30

Shame on the people who led Inces to such a disaster!! 

Rat Infestation 02 October 23 15:30

Praggs was always a cowboy, the head honcho, followed by his eager beavers "BOYS" club. They treated staff, especially the girls like "candy". Rude and arrogant to the core. The entire Board, Associates and other accociate muppets are responsible for this fiasco. They were all in it. Only three were implicated. The Finance manager, compliance manager should all be under investigation too!

Prags 02 October 23 17:34

Thanks for calling in admin on a firm I own. You all benefited from proceeds of crime.   

Red River and Tone Deaf 02 October 23 19:12

Clearly the same person. We all know who. 
 

Move on pal. Everyone got hurt here. There are no winners. 

Prag 02 October 23 19:27

Prag will buy out Axiom on pre pack ! 

Anon 02 October 23 20:52

I'd simply love to hear the excuses of Clementi and that ludicrous *** **** Falconer as to how their "reforms" of the legal profession have worked out and how grateful the "consumers" of Axiom Ince must be for having £64m of their money half inched in their brave new world of consumer orientated competition.

Anon 02 October 23 21:24

Well said FormerInceTrainee

They think it’s all over… 02 October 23 22:41

Questions need to be asked of the auditors, chief financial officer and the rest of the accounts team. How do you not notice £64million disappearing? 

A Furious Client 03 October 23 01:05

As a client of Axiom from mid-year I got to enjoy a fee earner distracted by board meetings, a solicitor worried about losing their job and relying on me to provide strategy and the route to complain taking me to one of the struck off lawyers.

To add insult to injury I was sent a handover bill on Friday and told to pay it or hear from an Insolvency Practitioner - only to be told not to pay it, as it would be written off - after I'd paid it.

Money down the drain, a case that has suffered as a result and the solicitors in charge will get off easy as I doubt the Ombudsman can provide remedy when firm no longer exists?

Re they think it’s all over 03 October 23 08:06

Simple. Their auditors were a 1 man band from Northwood as they were too small to actually need a statutory audit and  their cfo Muhammad Ali (definitely not the greatest) had only worked as a banking relationship manager before joining (he also disappeared the day the suspensions were announced) and they only had no real accounts team (ie no actual accountants).

Shameful 03 October 23 08:17

Two firms incompetently managed into administration are bought by a fraudster whom the SRA are already investigating.  Months of mayhem then ensue culminating in a further administration of the purchaser and an SRA intervention.

It would be pure comedy if it wasn’t so embarrassing for the legal profession.  All those responsible for this debacle should be banned from the profession and those in senior positions at the SRA should be sacked.

The profession has been embarrassed and brought into disrepute by the dishonesty and sheer incompetence of a small group of people.

They must not be allowed to get away with it. 

 

 

Incredulous 99 03 October 23 10:24

Other than the SRA's CEO, as per his recent statement regarding this case,  does anyone else have any confidence in the SRA's oversight of the legal profession?

Anon 03 October 23 11:28

The office at Wanstead was intervened this morning. Staff in tears,

I hope your mother’s proud of you PM.  The same applies to all of you who facilitated his alleged crimes.

You know who you are.  Rot in hell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anonymous 03 October 23 12:47

3 of the Directors are shown as resigning yesterday, more to follow?

Wouldn't be surprised if Knights took over the name.....

Wouldn't be surprised if Knights took over the name..... 03 October 23 16:47

Who on earth would want the names?

"Ince".. the Polly Peck of law firms.  So shit it went bust three times in four years, the last two times after Brown raised (and probably trousered) £millions on AIM in the last 15 months before Admin #2 of 3.  Him and his latter day Mol.. Ms Newman are no doubt "sitting in a tree" with some of Prags' stolen money. 

OMG666 03 October 23 17:05

From Wiseman Lee Website: 

The offices of Axiom Ince have been closed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

For queries about any live files please contact Gordons LLP on 0113 227 0394 or [email protected]

For queries about wills, deeds and archived files please contact Intervention Archives at the Solicitors Regulation Authority on 0204 525 0250 or [email protected]

OMG666 03 October 23 17:06

Now entering Admin -  Case Information

Case Number

CR-2023-005498

Court/List

Companies
Application - Notice of Intention to appoint an administrator

Inferred Case Status

 Active

Company

1.Axiom Ince Limited by Devonshires Solicitors

 

Anon 03 October 23 21:48

Where was Jeanette Newman and Donny Browns due diligence. They recommended the deal with Pragnesh to the partners of Ince. So much for their management skills. Were they blinded by the payment they received for recommending the purchase of Ince by Axiom. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this.

Partners who ran 03 October 23 21:56

Any blame here on the Partners who sanctioned the sales of their respective firms?? Or do they get away without issue

Anonymous 04 October 23 00:42

Although as an ex Axiom Ince employee, who had found a job elsewhere, I want to move past this disgraceful incident in my life in which I was made collateral damage, I for one hope this continues to be reported in the press for a long time - and ex employees speak out against the injustice they have suffered. May this be a rude awakening for those in positions in power - i.e Prags, the SRA.
 

It’s high time that you are stopped dead in your tracks and taught a lesson. The law applies to you as much as anyone else in this country. 

Bar Stuart 04 October 23 04:13

The lunatics are escaping the asylum 

Anonymous 04 October 23 12:05

Years of utter incompetence at Ince - ALL former partners who held a management role during the previous 5 years must be called to account for their role in this disgrace.

Joker's 04 October 23 12:57

Seriously the press are giving props to the SRA for stepping in to protect client interests!

Central support and mop up teams have worked their arses off to process the transfer of client files!! There isn't much left for the SRA to do!! 

Staff, receive a email @16.30 serving notice of administration! They say go to the government.... administrator's aren't even appointed so can't do anything!

For the legal profession and regulator... what a total S**t show!!

Angry & disappointed!!

 

 

coco 04 October 23 17:07

Rumour has it the missing millions were converted to gold...

Anonymous 04 October 23 18:07

Can the employees sue the SRA for negligence? They should never have allowed the two purchases by a clearly unsuitable individual. Another purchaser could then have been found. 

DarkSun2 04 October 23 18:30

Would enjoy knowing how £64m goes MISSING. There are processes that would show a £1 gone. Is there more involvement than just the MP? 

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