Former KWM staff team up for legal action over handling of redundancy process


A group of around 200 former King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) Europe and Middle East (EUME) employees, including lawyers, have come together to take legal action over the way redundancies were handled in the wake of the collapse of the legacy SJ Berwin business.

The staff have instructed regional employment law firm Herrington Carmichael to handle the claim, which relates to KWM’s failure to enter a formal consultation process of 45 days prior to making the redundancies, which firms are required to do when making more than 100 redundancies at one time.

KWM’s EUME arm went into administration on 17 January, with several hundred staff made redundant later that week.

The claim will be for “a protective award for failure to inform and consult under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992”, according to a source close to the matter.

The source added that “most people” made redundant were taking part in the action.

An intent to issue a claim will be registered with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service shortly. Herrington Carmichael, which has offices in Surrey and Berkshire, is fielding a team led by employment head Alistair McArthur.

Any successful claim would be paid out by the Redundancy Payment Office or National Insurance Fund.

Yesterday, Legal Week revealed that former KWM partners are to be asked to pay for the preparation of the failed business’s final accounts. Quantuma, the administrator of the collapsed business, has engaged big four accounting firm Deloitte to prepare KWM EUME’s cessation accounts and is set to write to former partners who were at the firm during the period covered by these accounts, to request “a commensurate contribution” to cover the cost.

KWM EUME went into administration on 17 January. At its height in 2007-08, the legacy SJ Berwin business was ranked 14th in the UK top 50, with revenues of £215m and profit per equity partner of £801,000.

KWM and Herrington Carmichael declined to comment.