Slater & Gordon Limited (SGH) announced that it has agreed to acquire the business of prominent United Kingdom law firm Russell Jones & Walker (RJW) for £53.8 million (approximately $AUD80 million), subject to the grant of an Alternative Business Structures licence by the UK Solicitors Regulation Authority. The agreement to acquire the business comes after more than 12 months of extensive due diligence. All of RJW’s principals will continue to work in the new business and are becoming shareholders in Slater & Gordon. The history of RJW is similar to that of Slater & Gordon. Established in the 1920s to gain compensation for steelworkers injured in the dreadful working conditions of the time, RJW has grown substantially and now has approximately 425 staff across 10 locations. About 60% of its revenue is in personal injury litigation. It also has a strong employment law practice and a growing practice in family law. The main RJW offices are in London, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham.
The acquisition includes RJW’s Claims Direct brand. Claims Direct is one of the UK’s largest and best known claims management brands. It operates as essentially a marketing co-operative for a number of law firms. The legal enquiries derived from Claims Direct marketing are allocated to the members of the co-operative. Claims management companies are currently a prominent feature of the UK legal landscape.
“The UK market is inherently attractive to us because of its size and its jurisdictional similarities to Australia which the recent changes bring even closer into line,” Slater & Gordon Managing Director Andrew Grech said. “We have the huge advantage of having a five-year head start in operating in a listed environment and we can bring that experience to the UK through a kindred firm in RJW, which has the business structure and the people to exploit that advantage.” Slater & Gordon Ltd will incorporate a wholly owned subsidiary company in the UK, Slater & Gordon UK Ltd, to manage its operations there. RJW CEO Neil Kinsella will become CEO of Slater & Gordon’s UK business. All senior RJW management will continue in their current roles.