Hill Dickinson in talks to transfer £23m 16-partner insurance business to Keoghs

Hill Dickinson is in talks to transfer its insurance business to Keoghs.

The sale of the general insurance business would exclude marine insurance and clinical negligence work, which would remain with Hill Dickinson.

Hill Dickinson chief executive Peter Jackson (pictured above) said that the group accounted for revenue of £23m in the firm’s most recent financial results, and includes 16 partners and in excess of 400 other staff.

He added that talks between the firms had been in progress for “some months” and said that Hill Dickinson intends to hold a partner vote on the deal “as soon as possible”.

The firm said it would now concentrate on “areas of future strategic growth”, including marine, commercial and health.

Keoghs chief executive John Whittle said: “While still at an early stage, any deal would be fully in tune with our vision of creating the pre-eminent legal services provider for the UK insurance industry. However, it would be premature to comment further on the progression of such discussions until we have fully consulted with our clients and our people.”

In a statement, Jackson said: “I believe that our partners and staff involved in any transition would benefit from moving to a firm whose sole focus is insurance and has invested heavily in IT to service clients efficiently.

“Furthermore, it would allow us to focus our resource and efforts on areas of future strategic growth, including marine, commercial and health work, while maintaining close relationships with Keoghs to provide an enhanced offering to our retained clients who require insurance-related advice.”

Hill Dickinson had a challenging year in 2016-17, with its most recent financial results showing a 1.4% drop in revenue to £101.7m, against a 12.7% fall in average profit per equity partner from £314,000 to £274,000.

Hill Dickinson recently held an unsuccessful round of merger talks with fellow insurance and shipping firm Ince & Co.

In March, it emerged that a 24-person personal injury team was leaving Hill Dickinson to join Kennedys as Hill Dickinson closed down its Sheffield office following the loss of a major client.

Private equity-backed Keoghs, meanwhile, has been keen to expand and, in 2015, was close to acquiring the majority of fellow defendant insurance firm Parabis as that firm teetered on the brink of insolvency. Ultimately, talks broke down and the bulk of Parabis re-emerged from administration as Plexus Law following a management buyout.

Its 2015-16, limited liability partnership accounts reveal that Keoghs spent nearly £900,000 on its failed pursuit of Parabis.