Axiom Ince suffers further partner defections as future of firm in doubt

Latest losses include exits to Birketts, HF and Wikborg Rein

Ince & Co’s London office, Aldgate Tower irstone

A fresh wave of departures has hit Axiom Ince amid expectations that it is set to close after the firm reportedly told the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) that it couldn’t continue “in its current format”.

The latest exits include a team of seven marine and marine insurance claims specialists who are joining Birketts; a cross-practice team of nine partners, an associate partner and their support teams who are joining Horwich Farrelly (HF); and a team of 17 lawyers joining Wikborg Rein.

Those add to departures seen earlier this week, including a nine-strong private client team who joined Greenwoods and a team of seven regulatory lawyers who joined Irwin Mitchell.

Axiom Ince has been beset by staff departures in recent weeks after the SRA suspended group head Pragnesh Modhwadia in mid-August for suspected dishonesty. Modhwadia’s firm AxiomDWFM had rescued Ince & Co from administration back in April, subsequently changing its name to Axiom Ince. It also bought Plexus Law out of administration in July.

A spokesperson for the SRA said: “Although Axiom continues to trade, they have said it ‘will likely be unable to continue in its current format’. We are closely monitoring the position.”

The team joining Birketts include legal directors Alex Penberthy, Daniel Crockford and Clarissa Dumolo, senior associate Joanna Mansel, paralegal Markella Papadopoulou and administrators Gabbie Hazzell and Kate Jenkins.

Henry Adams, partner and head of shipping and international trade at Birketts, said the team’s arrival bolsters its commercial vessels coverage by adding expertise in claims involving yachts, superyachts, barges, tugs, offshore support vessels and fishing vessels.

The partners joining HF are Stef Johnston, Jarrod Parker, Alison Beesley, Chris Foulkes, Richard Salvini, Duncan Brockway, Shaun Moyser, Victoria Jordon and Paul Cha, plus associate partner Imogen Webb. They cover areas including aviation, marine, sport, property, casualty, regulatory and disease. To accommodate the new arrivals, HF is opening an office in Leeds where about 30 of the new team will be located, including three partners.

The team of 17 lawyers joining Wikborg Rein’s London office bring expertise across international dispute resolution and finance. They include a team of seven shipping disputes experts (Michael Volikas, Ian Chetwood, Charles O’Connor, Amanda Urwin, Sophie Henniker-Major, Jack Maxted, Alice Hoare), a team of three finance lawyers (Beatrice Russ, Sian Sanders and Ben Orchard) and a team of seven commercial disputes and international arbitration lawyers (Gillie Belsham, Ben Ogden, Chris Crane, Daniel Boden, Tim Wright, Iain Preston and Ellie Jones).

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