ONE of Doncaster’s biggest law firms has closed down with debts of £3 million and the loss of around 40 jobs.
Atteys closed its head office in Cleveland Street - and branch offices in Sheffield, Barnsley and Wath-upon-Dearne - last Friday evening.
But its clients have been told their cases and documents are safe because they have been transferred to other South Yorkshire solicitors.
Legal rescue consultant Mark Feeney said he tried to find a buyer for Atteys but could sell only parts of the business, which has had chambers in Doncaster for more than 40 years.
Mr Feeney said potential buyers ‘dropped away’ because of ‘successor practice’ rules which meant they would have had to take on the future liabilities of Atteys. “Their liabilities follow them and no-one was prepared to do that,” he said.
The 120 staff were paid up until February 28, but the banks refused to sanction any further funding so lawyers and support staff were made redundant on March 1, although some stayed for the final week.
“People worked very hard for no pay and it was a very difficult and worrying time for everybody,” Mr Feeney added.
Other law firms stepped in to acquire some of Atteys’ departments and staff, including property and wills, and all clients will be receiving letters informing them who now has their files.
The firm will now go into liquidation and Mr Feeney confirmed debts were in the region of £3m. Some of the senior partners are facing personal bankruptcy.
Mr Feeney said ‘less than half’ of the staff had lost their jobs.