Crisis-hit national firm Axiom Ince is on the verge of administration as the last remaining employees continue to depart.

A court notice published today confirms an application from the firm to give notice of an intention to appoint an administrator. Axiom Ince is represented by Devonshires Solicitors, according to the notice.

The firm’s website is not working as it appears the business is being closed down. One employee told the Gazette they were unsure if the firm continued to have insurance after the previous cover ended at the weekend and speculation is rife that the Solicitors Regulation Authority has considered intervening into what remains of the practice.

National firm Buckles today sais it had taken on 30 individuals split across the former Ince & Co offices in Swindon and Bristol.

Natasha Bliss, former head of the Ince commercial litigation team, and private client head Andrew James will lead the new Buckles team in Swindon.

Kerry Graham, who was head of the family team at Ince, and Janine Harris, a partner in the commercial property team, have both joined Buckles as partners based in Bristol.

Buckles chief executive Duncan Jackson said: ‘The new teams in Bristol and Swindon will offer a broad mix of legal services, including dispute resolution, private client, property (both commercial and residential) and family law, whilst creating the opportunity to offer all our areas of expertise to the growing client base.

‘Given the turmoil in the legal market, joining an ambitious and growing firm such as Buckles makes perfect sense for the teams in Swindon and Bristol. And I’m confident that with the talent we have recruited, we will grow the firm with new clients across the region.’

The firm made clear it should not be considered a successor practice to Axiom Ince. 

Meanwhile, national firm Collyer Bristow has hired Ince’s former real estate and construction team, featuring six lawyers including four partners. Former Ince head of real estate Ian Chappell, Adrian Bingham, Mino Themistocli, George Georgiou, Penny Arneja and trainee Larna Marsh will all move as part of the transfer.

Penningtons Manches Cooper has recruited a team of three specialist shipping lawyers from Ince & Co.

Paul Crane will join as a partner, William Chetwood as a senior consultant, and Akshay Misra as a managing associate. A current Ince & Co trainee will follow the trio and arrive at the firm in the coming weeks.

The departures have been frequent since the SRA suspended three directors of Axiom Ince in August, including former managing partner Pragnesh Modhwadia. He has since been made subject to a £64m freezing order and his lawyers have confirmed that client money was used to purchase Ince & Co and Plexus Legal as well as six properties. The Metropolitan Police last week confirmed that specialist officers have begun an investigation following a notification from the SRA. 

One solicitor still with the firm last week said staff had been given no information about what was happening, although most expected the firm would be closed.