SRA “doesn’t have responsibility for trainees” at Cobbetts

The SRA has said it “doesn’t have responsibility for trainees” at Cobbetts and will only become involved if training contracts are transferred to other firms.

This morning the news emerged that Manchester firm Cobbetts is set to enter administration and is looking for buyers after filing a notice to appoint administrators on Monday (30 January 2013).

Reacting to the news a spokesperson for the SRA said “as was the case [with Dewey & LeBoeuf], we’ll do what we can with regards trainees at Cobbetts, working with our partners at The Law Society as the trainees look at their options.”

However, the spokesperson confirmed that would be purely “an administrative process” if training contracts had to be transferred to other firms.

“The SRA doesn’t have responsibility for trainees – we register training contracts and make sure providers are of sufficient quality but whether trainees are employed is not our responsibility,” the spokesperson added.

The firm, which has 242 lawyers and more than 551 staff, informed its employees of the news this morning.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the firm said: “Having regard to the difficult trading conditions in the professional services sector we’ve reluctantly concluded that the appropriate course at this time is for the firm to obtain the protection of an interim statutory moratorium to enable a sale of the business and assets of the firm to be concluded in a short time frame.

“We’re also working closely with our regulator, the SRA, with all stakeholders and our professional advisers to achieve the best outcome for creditors, clients, employees and members. We remain confident that we’ll be able to provide a further positive update in the very near future.”

Bevan Brittan partner Iain Miller is advising the SRA on the fallout of Cobbetts’ demise.

Miller, who is featured in The Lawyer Hot 100, also advised the regulator on the collapse of Halliwells and Dewey & LeBoeuf.

The SRA said its main objective was to ensure maximum client protection while the firm looked to resolve its financial problems.