SHEFFIELD Chamber of Commerce president Suzanne Liversidge and 31 other senior lawyers are facing a High Court legal action over claims they diverted proceeds from a £21 million property deal to themselves – helping to cause the collapse of a major law firm in the process.
Halliwells, which had an office in Pinfold Street, Sheffield city centre, as well as in Manchester, Liverpool and London, went into administration in July 2010 with debts of almost £32 million.
Ms Liversidge and the other partners in the firm are alleged to have diverted the proceeds of a property deal, which sprung from Halliwells setting up luxurious new office accommodation in Manchester, to their own separate company.
It is claimed the financial damage done by the “secret” deal helped lead to Halliwells’ demise.
Ms Liversidge, who was the managing partner of Halliwells’ Sheffield office, said: “The allegations are disputed in their entirety but, as legal proceedings are ongoing, I am unable at this stage to make any further comment.”
Accountancy firm BDO appointed Halliwells’ administrators and subsequently liquidators, has launched legal proceedings against the 32 partners.
The firm is now set to be joined by 36 former senior figures at Halliwells seeking damages over allegations the partners concealed the deal from them.
Six months before administration, Ms Liversidge and 60 staff at Halliwells’ Sheffield office left to join law firm Kennedys.
BDO’s High Court claim states the partners breached duties by failing to act in the best interests of the firm.