More than a dozen barristers chambers each stand to lose thousands of pounds after the collapse of the debt-ridden SSB Group, new documents have revealed.
A newly-published administrator’s report for the Sheffield claims business states that SSB went under owing £205m. Much of that was accounted for through loan agreements with litigation funders, but there is also a string of legal businesses owed money by SSB and now unlikely to receive a penny.
Among the barristers chambers listed as creditors are 42BR (owed £42,000), 7KBW Barristers (£61,000), Bedford Row (£56,000), Clerksroom (£175,000), Dere Street (£466,000) and Selborne Chambers (£128,000). Claims management company National Accident Helpline (£139,000) and medical agencies Mobile Doctors (£131,000) and Premex (£881,000) are also creditors. Outside the legal profession, Sheffield City Council is owed £205,000 while Sheffield United Football Club, whose stand is sponsored by SSB Group, is owed £97,000.
Administrators from FRP Advisory were appointed earlier this month after the business gave notice of its intention to enter administration in November.
The report reveals that as at October last year, the company had 42,708 files being handled by around 220 staff from two premises in Sheffield.
SSB used litigation funding from six main funders to meet upfront costs of these cases and finance the ongoing working capital.
Administrators said the company struggled with its cavity wall case portfolio and adverse cost orders – not all of which were recoverable through ATE insurance – and loss of work from a key referrer.
Talks with a potential buyer broke down in the second half of last year and the company’s biggest funder Katch agreed with the management to begin insolvency proceedings.
Prior to the administrators’ appointment, 90 staff members were made redundant. They were followed by a further 107, with just 22 employees now kept on to oversee the wind-down.
Staff are owed £237,000 in pay arrears, unpaid pension contributions and holiday pay as preferential creditors but are unlikely to receive anything.
The biggest sum owed to any lender when the company went into administration was the £63m owed to Katch Fund Solictions. Catalur Capital had advanced funds of £18m against SSB cases, AFS had provided £24m funding, Duologi had £3m outstandings and investor Opportunity S.A. had put forward £42m of funding against cavity wall claims.
All lending deals were already subject to at least £40m accrued interest.
Administrators said the realisable value of the accrued work in progress was difficult to value at this stage. The highest offer for the non-issued SSB work was from Katch, comprising a sale and purchase agreement with law firms Harcus Parker and Consumer Rights Solicitors. Katch has also agreed to fund the administrators’ fees.
A separate deal was agreed with Altrincham firm Cheval Legal to transfer 3,000 cases, while Manchester firm JMR Solicitors has taken on the cavity wall case files.