Ex-KWM partners called on to pay into staff ‘hardship fund’

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King & Wood Mallesons’ (KWM’s) former Europe and Middle East (EUME) managing partner Tim Bednall has written to ex-partners asking them to contribute towards a “hardship fund” for the failed firm’s former support staff.

Bednall emailed a number of former partners last week, asking them to donate towards a fund for staff made redundant when the firm collapsed, who are now suffering “undue hardship”.

It is not known how much has been contributed so far or how much Bednall is hoping to raise.

Sources close to the firm suggest the email has so far only been sent to partners who were at the firm in the months shortly before its collapse.

One former partner said: “Everyone’s been injured in some way. You could view it cynically but at least they’re doing something about it.”

News of Bednall’s fundraising attempt comes as 288 former KWM EUME employees, including lawyers, have instructed regional employment law firm Herrington Carmichael to take legal action over the way the redundancies were handled in the wake of the collapse of the legacy SJ Berwin business.

The claim 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 a time.

Bednall also wrote to former partners last week on behalf of the firm’s administrator – Quantuma – to request an initial payment of £900 each for the cost of the first phase of Deloitte’s work preparing the firm’s cessation accounts.

The cost of the professional services firm’s work was estimated in that email at £95,000, and former partners have been informed that they will be asked to contribute 70% of this amount.