News in brief – 30.09.2021

Buying costs firms paying off, says Frenkel Topping

Partners in Costs and A&M Bacon are “performing well” and fully integrated since their £9m acquisition earlier this year, AIM-listed company Frenkel Topping has told investors in announcing its results for the first six months of 2021.

Last month, Frenkel Topping added legal aid costs specialists Bidwell Henderson for £1.5m as part of its strategy to consolidate the pre-settlement professional services marketplace in personal injury and clinical negligence.

Group revenue for the six months increased by 93% to £8.5m, gross profit rose by 80% to £4.5m and assets under management (AUM) grew 15% to £1.1bn.

Richard Fraser, CEO of Frenkel Topping, said: “Since our £13m capital raise in July 2020, we have successfully executed our stated buy and build strategy which is positively impacting the group’s growth and opportunity by consolidating the fragmented PI and clin neg market and allowing Frenkel Topping to become a full-service provider with multiple touch points across the space.

“The acquisitions of Forths, Partners in Costs, A&M Bacon and, most recently, Bidwell Henderson, allow us to scale routes into growing AUM mandates from successful claims.

“The second half of the year has begun positively and trading remains strong and in line with management’s expectations for the full year.”


“Vanishing availability” of legal aid spelt out

A Law Society analysis has shown the “vanishing availability” of legal aid across housing, welfare, education, community care and immigration, with people living in areas without a major city particularly badly hit.

It said that, across England and Wales:

  • 52m people (88%) do not have access to a local education provider
  • 47m (79%) do not have access to a local welfare legal aid provider
  • 40m (67%) do not have access to a local community care legal aid provider
  • 38m (63%) do not have access to a local immigration and asylum legal aid provider
  • 5m (39%) do not have access to a local legal aid provider for housing advice

Legal aid fees have not increased for more than 20 years and were instead cut by 10% in 2011.

Law Society President I Stephanie Boyce called on the government to commit in the upcoming spending review to fund the legal aid system properly.


Labour eyes pro bono targets for lawyers

The shadow Lord Chancellor said this week that law firms wanting government contracts will have to commit to a minimum of 35 hours of pro bono per lawyer if Labour is elected.

Speaking at the Labour Party conference, David Lammy said the national pro bono target would be promoted by a state-run and funded national pro bono centre to “encourage partnership between the public and private sector”.

Describing “a legal system that only serves the rich”, Mr Lammy said: “City law firms are making billions in profit, while low-paid workers see their tax bill rise and wages fall. This party recognises the importance of the private sector doing their bit in partnership with the public sector.”

The centre would promote awareness of pro bono and provide incentives to participate; offer practical tools and resources to reduce barriers and constraints to participating in pro bono; and connect different participants through sharing of best practice and collaboration.

The national pro bono target the centre would encourage would be “voluntary and aspirational” except for those firms seeking government contracts, Labour officials explained.

The 35-hour target would be open to firms, chambers and individual lawyers to sign up to. There would also be a target of at least 20 hours for in-house legal teams and individual in-house lawyers.

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Costs News
Published date
30 Sep 2021

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