The private equity owner of QualitySolicitors, Palamon Capital Partners, has acquired a controlling stake in The Simplify Group, a conveyancing and probate business with a turnover of £60m.
The Simplify Group includes panel management conveyancing business Move with Us, top-20 conveyancing provider DC Law and specialist probate provider Chorus Law.
The group says it does not conduct legal services in its own right: its member companies work on a business-to-business basis, handling work secured by banks and estate agents, instructing law firms on its panel to handle legal aspects of client work.
The acquisition signals an apparently undimmed appetite for investment in the legal sector by Palamon, based in St James', London.
Partner Daan Knottenbelt told the Gazette: ‘We have been looking for some time to make more acquisitions in the legal sector.’ He said the challenge was to find businesses that had ‘scale’ in legal services.
Simplify has been bought with the expectation that QualitySolicitors member firms will secure more conveyancing and probate work, in addition to other legal instructions from Simplify clients. Knottenbelt said that QS firms can offer direct contact with consumers, which is currently missing from Simplify's business model.
QS chief executive Eddie Ross said the deal was ‘very technology-focused’, and predicted it would ‘bring significant extra work’ to QS members.
Palamon refused to say how much it is paying for Simplify, though Simplify’s declared turnover points to an investment in excess of £150m for a controlling stake.
Knottenbelt said Palamon’s investments in the legal sector were based on analysis that the sector was ‘segmented’ and facing regulatory change; that on the high street it faced ‘reducing revenues’ and pressure on profit margins – and therefore successful businesses required ‘scale’.
This meant that QS and Simplify had a ‘complementary’ market position.
A full announcement on the future composition of Simplify’s board will follow, but it is likely that Knottenbelt will be among its members.