The scrapping of Home Information Packs has claimed a belated – and very large – scalp.
Major national legal firm Fridays Property Lawyers, which described itself as the UK’s fastest growing conveyancing company right up until the end of last year, has gone into administration, with staff starting 2011 without jobs.
The company had its head office at King’s Cross, London, plus other offices and various partnerships in the UK, with Fridays Legal Services branded offerings in 12 towns and cities.
The Fridays service operated long hours over seven days a week.
But staff were sent letters over the Christmas and New Year break, although one person who turned up at work on the first day back last Tuesday was shocked to find the offices locked and deserted.
The company specialised in conveyancing and was also a major HIP provider. Ironically, its HIP was singled out by Which? as being the cheapest, at just £189, some £300 cheaper than the most expensive deal.
The Fridays’ administrators are Begbies Traynor in Leeds, which released this statement:
“Julian N. R. Pitts and David F. Wilson of Begbies Traynor were appointed Joint Administrators to Fridays Property Lawyers Limited on 30 December 2010.
“The company have closed down their operation following a period of rapid contraction resulting from the abolition of Home Information Packs. The company initially grew rapidly as a result of its HIP offering and became reliant on HIPs as a primary generator of new business.
“Attempts to replace new business volumes proved unsuccessful in the current economic climate.
“We are working with the Regulator (CLC) to ensure that all live cases have been transferred and will be completed with no delay or disruption to clients. Clients have been contacted and notified of the situation.
“Regrettably, the closure of the operation has resulted in staff redundancies.
“The website and trading style have been purchased by a new company. The site is in the process of being reconfigured to provide new services tailored around the currently troubled property market.”
The identity of this company has not yet been made known, and nor is it known how many redundancies there have been, but updates are expected.
As well as under-cutting its rivals on HIPs, Fridays also supplied the cheapest EPCs and offered the fee back if customers also took Fridays’ conveyancing. It charged from just £89 for fixed price conveyancing, and said it helped thousands to move each month.
On its website, Fridays described itself as the UK’s most popular property lawyers, and said that it was recommended by 92% of its customers.
The company was set up in 2004 and headed by Simon Seaton and Patrick McIntyre. Last September, it announced the appointment of Tom Horrocks as head of legals. He joined from Ashley King’s Simply Property Lawyers.
Horrocks was previously CEO of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and director of Countrywide Property Lawyers, and senior lecturer in law at Huddersfield University. His appointment at the time was described as a ‘coup’ for Fridays.