Controversial stock exchange-listed business Quindell today admitted that it had published some ‘not appropriate’ statements of income as it announced a retreat from the legal services sector. In a widely trailed deal valued at £637m, it announced a conditional sale of its entire professional services division to Australian firm Slater and Gordon.The deal, announced on both the Australian and London stock exchanges, involves an ‘initial cash consideration’ of £637m and a 50-50 share of profits from future noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) claims being run by Quindell. Slater and Gordon said it would fund the acquisition by raising A$890m (£462m) in new equity.The transaction is conditional on a majority vote by Quindell shareholders, which is scheduled for Friday 17 April. Quindell’s board unanimously recommended that Quindell shareholders vote in support of the transaction.Quindell said it was acting for clients in around 53,000 cases, and the parties will share profits from those until June 2017, after which there will be a final payment based on remaining unresolved cases.Slater and Gordon said the deal was a ‘transformational opportunity’ that would turn it into the biggest personal injury firm in the UK – just three years after arriving in the country with the acquisition of Russell Jones Walker. The company expects to increase personal injury market share in the UK from 5% to 12% when deal is completed in May.For Quindell, the company will now lose its professional services division and comprise a range of insurance-related technology businesses – in effect signalling the end of its involvement in the provision of legal service.Quindell said that if the disposal were not to proceed, the group’s ‘financial and operational flexibility would be limited’ because of the debt it would retain.Quindell’s statement also revealed that an initial report by accountancy firm PwC into accounting practices of Quindell has found they were ‘largely acceptable’ but ’at the aggressive end of acceptable practice’.PwC found statements of income based on potential hearing loss cases revenue were not appropriate, primarily due to the group’s lack of historical data.The report is likely to result in a review of policy which will likely result in a reduction of revenue and profit figures for 2014.The company said it will adjust its reported interim results for the six-month period to June 2014 using more ‘conservative’ policies, as well as the comparative figures for the year ended 31 December 2013.’This move will accelerate and consolidate our position in the UK market and bring benefits to the clients and staff of both businesses.’David Currie, interim non-executive chairman of Quindell, said: ‘This is an important landmark for Quindell, delivering significant value for investors from part of our business. Should the disposal complete, we are committed to a significant return of capital to our shareholders and to return future cash proceeds over time as NIHL cases settle.’Andrew Grech, managing director of Slater and Gordon, added: ‘In getting to this point we undertook a very extensive due diligence process. The business we are buying is of high quality with robust infrastructure and systems and good people.’
Charitable organisations have urged the government to reconsider controversial proposals to increase some probate fees so that estates including bequests to charities are not adversely affected.In an open letter to justice minister Lucy Frazer QC, the Institute of Fundraising, Remember A Charity, the Institute of Legacy Management and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations warn that the proposed new fee structure has ‘unintended consequences that could be detrimental to charitable giving’.The government’s proposals would see the cost of administering probate reflect the value of the estate, replacing a flat fee. For the wealthiest estates, this would mean a rise from £155 to £6,000. But people with estates worth less than £50,000 will not pay any fees – at present this exemption is only for people with estates worth £5,000 or less. The Law Society has described the proposals as ‘a misuse of the lord chancellor’s fee-levying powers’.The joint letter suggests that a ‘reduction or discounted rate’ on estates that include a legacy gift would reduce the financial impact on charities and create an incentive to leave a charitable gift. According to the letter, legacy income could grow by 2.7% a year until 2022. However, the organisations warn that the changes ‘will severely disrupt a promising lifeline for good causes.‘We appreciate clarification that the order will not affect the amount paid out to charities when there is a fixed request rather than a percentage. However residual bequests account for 87% of total legacy income and are the main type of legacy income received by charities,’ it adds.The organisations have also urged Frazer to meet them to try and identify a way forward.The Non-Contentious Probate (Fees) Order, introduced via statutory instrument (SI), is to be laid before the House of Commons before April. Usually, unless there is a formal objection, an SI would pass. However, with an objection lodged it would give the house the chance to vote on the proposals. The Gazette understands the Labour party plans to oppose the order.
Paris – Athletics was left with the prospect of a lost season on Thursday after this summer’s European Championships, set to be held in Paris, were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.In a statement, the event’s organizing committee and French Athletics Federation (FFA) said they “wished to adopt a responsible position by putting human health and the fight against the spread of the virus before any other consideration.” The championships were scheduled for Aug. 25-30. The cancellation follows the postponement in March of the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 and the announcement earlier on Thursday of the postponement of Diamond League events in Eugene, Oregon, and Paris.”We really tried,” said Jean Gracia, president of the Paris European Championships organizing committee. “We all hoped that the situation might improve rapidly, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case,””We looked at all the possibilities, including reducing the number of athletes in each contest and halving the number of spectators.”Continental governing body European Athletics said that the decision followed a meeting between the organizing committee and the FFA and “an earlier meeting between the relevant French authorities” — including the country’s interior and sport ministries.”Whilst we regret announcing the cancellation of our European Athletics Championships, it is worth reiterating that in these unprecedented times the health and safety of all athletics’ stakeholders including athletes, fans, officials, partners and everyone connected with the sport is paramount,” said European Athletics’ interim president Dobromir Karamarinov.European Athletics added that it would discuss the “other changes to the global athletics calendar that have been forced upon the sport” in its next video conference on May 7-8.The Eugene Diamond League meeting was due to take place on June 7 with Paris’ six days later. Their postponement means that eight events have been pushed back with no revised dates yet announced.”As with previous suspensions, this decision was reached in close consultation with all relevant parties and based on concerns over athlete safety as well as widespread travel restrictions which make it impossible to stage the competitions as planned,” the organizers said in a statement.The next scheduled Diamond League meeting is London on July 4, although the Bislett Games in Oslo — one of the longest-standing meetings on the international calendar — will go ahead on June 11, albeit in a different format from the Diamond League meeting originally planned on that date.The event will be “an alternative athletics competition under Norwegian coronavirus regulations,” organizers said.Oslo will feature a pole vault head-to-head between Armand Duplantis and 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie, whose world record the young Swede broke in February. GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES RELATED PHOTOS KEYWORDS IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 Your news needs your supportSince the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan. European Championships, covid-19, European Athletics Athletes compete in the women’s 4×100 relay final at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin. Organizers on Thursday announced the cancellation of the 2020 edition, which was set to take place in Paris in late August, due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. | REUTERS