KWM administrators given 28-day deadline to respond to redundancy claim brought by former staff

Former King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) staff who took legal action over the way their redundancies were handled have been told that their claim can now proceed, following delays described as “excessive and unnecessary” by their solicitors.

The claim – which was brought by roughly 200 former staff of KWM’s collapsed European arm this February – had been held up by IT issues at the Employment Tribunal Service.

Claimants have now been informed by their solicitors, Herrington Carmichael, that the Employment Tribunal has resolved the IT issues, enabling the claim to proceed.

Quantuma, the administrators of KWM’s Europe, UK and Middle East (EUME) business, now have 28 days to provide a response to the claim.

The Tribunal has also submitted a formal letter of apology for the delays.

The claim relates to KWM’s failure to enter a formal consultation process of 45 days prior to making staff redundant when it filed for administration in January, which employers are required to do when making more than 100 redundancies at one time.

Herrington Carmichael made a formal complaint to the Employment Tribunal about the delays on 1 June. In an email to claimants, the firm described the delays as “excessive and unnecessary”.

If the claim is successful, staff will be paid out by the Redundancy Payment Office or National Insurance Fund.

KWM’s EUME arm collapsed into administration at the start of the year, with several hundred staff made redundant after the legacy SJ Berwin business officially filed for administration on 17 January.

About 100 former KWM partners have been called on to contribute up to £2,500 each to a hardship fund set up to assist staff particularly hard hit by the failure of the business, including those who were on or due to start maternity leave at the time of the collapse; those who have been unable to find new jobs; and those caring for ill dependents or suffering from illness themselves.