Scandal-hit law firm takes legal step towards closure

Former Axiom Ince managing partner Pragnesh Modhwadia

Law firm Axiom Ince has today filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators after a weekend that appeared to seal its fate.

The Metropolitan Police’s specialist crime command has launched an investigation while senior staff and teams of lawyers had walked out and joined other firms.

Axiom Ince’s website is no longer online and it has been reported the firm has emailed clients that it “will cease to trade in the near future”.

The notice of intention filing is a process that offers protection from other action by creditors, usually while attempts are made to secure a rescue deal. But with the crises at Axiom Ince it is highly unlikely the firm can survive.

Last month, the former boss of the acquisitive legal group admitted to using client money to fund the purchase of Plexus Law and Ince earlier this year.

Managing partner Pragnesh Modhwadia confirmed in an affidavit that £64m taken from client accounts had mostly been spent. It had also been used to buy six properties and fund construction work on another seven.

Leeds-headquartered Plexus collapsed in July, but was acquired by Axiom Ince in a pre-pack deal that saved 540 jobs.

Modhwadia is being investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for “dishonesty” and the High Court has extended a freezing order against Modhwadia to £64m.

It also put an injunction in place to prevent the sale of the properties, which are owned by companies controlled by Modhwadia and his family.

Defendant law firm Plexus had seven offices in the group – Chelmsford, Edinburgh, Evesham, Leeds, London, Liverpool and Manchester – split across its English company Plexus Legal LLP and its Scottish division Plexus North LLP.

It was the second rescue deal by Axiom in just six weeks, after it bailed out shipping law specialists Ince in another pre-pack deal in late May.

London-headquartered Axiom DWFM was formed from the 2021 merger between Axiom Stone and DWFM Beckman with bases in Birmingham, Bristol, Swindon and Edgware.

It had 19 partners and fewer than 150 staff, but the Plexus deal increased its workforce to around 1,000 people for the firm now known as Axiom Ince.