UK’s Historic Maritime Legal Firm Ince Saved from Administration
London’s storied legal firm most recently known as Ince Group, which has been a leader in the maritime world for more than 150 years, will survive the collapse of its operations and its petition for administration filed just two weeks ago. The partners from the legal business reported that they concluded a pre-packaged deal which saw administrators appointed today for Ince Group and the legal business and its associated assets immediately acquired and relaunched under its historic identity of Ince & Co.
Founded in 1870, Ince & Co. was a fixture in the maritime world and grew to become one of London’s leading practices. Four years ago, Ince was acquired merging into Gordon Dadds, which continues to expand through multiple global acquisitions adding on services ranging from accounting to financial services, consulting, and pensions advice. The shipping and corporate law practice was expanded and strengthened with the October 2020 launch of Ince Cyprus. In March 2021, the company’s last completed annual report said staff numbered over 700 worldwide with revenues of over £100 million ($125 million at current exchange rates), making it one of the largest publicly traded law firms in the UK.
The multiple acquisition however had also created complications for the practice group and its operations. Accounting issues and related issues emerged from Ince's Hong Kong office which the auditors said were preventing it from completing the 2021-2022 financial reports. Struggling with the issues, the firm’s share price declined as partners defected from the firm. Finally, earlier this month, Ince Group reported that it had lost the support of a key financier lender and that it would seek administration.
Quantuma Advisory Limited was appointed Joint Administrators of Ince Gordon Dadds LLP this afternoon in London, followed by the announcement of the acquisition of the legal business and transfer of all employees to a newly launched Ince & Co. The law practice and all its cases were acquired by another UK legal firm, AxiomDWFM, which itself has also been growing through acquisitions.
“After taking over the management of the PLC group (Ince Gordon Dadds), it quickly became apparent that we needed to address a series of poorly structured and executed transactions and expansions,” said Donald Brown who becomes CEO of Ince & Co. “This acquisition of the Ince businesses will give the firm, our team, and our clients a simple and clear corporate and capital structure under professional, knowledgeable and robust ownership.”
AxiomDWFM reports that Ince & Co. will be a separate operating entity and managed independently as a separately branded legal services business. Partners and employees from the previous firm transferred to the new company which will honor existing remuneration structures and other material liabilities of the business.
In announcing the transaction, the companies said it enables the partner group of Ince & Co. to refocus the firm’s growth strategy on its core legal services, while also improving operations and support structures.
“When the opportunity came to acquire a business of the caliber of Ince & Co. we were eager to engage and are delighted that the Ince & Co. team shared our enthusiasm. We believe we have a great relationship already and a great opportunity together,” said Pragnesh Modhwadia, Managing Partner of AxiomDWFM.
George Zambartas, Head of the Shipping and Corporate Law practice from the Cyprus office called it an exciting time for the company. He said they looked forward to expanding the international practice.