Top-50 firm Weightmans and north of England-based Ward Hadaway have called off talks to create a £130m combined practice. In a joint statement today, the firms said they have mutually agreed to withdraw from discussions. ’Both firms could see undoubted benefits of the merger and have a great deal in common around culture and values,’ the statement said. ’Following discussions, however, both firms reached a consensus their respective strategic priorities were not sufficiently aligned to invest in such a significant merger.’

The merger, plans for which were announced in January, would have created a significant national player. Weightmans has 180 partners and a headcount of 1,400 in 11 UK offices, with income of £95m. Ward Hadaway, which has offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, is a full-service law firm with a headcount of around 450, including 80 partners, and annual revenues of about £36m. 

Ward Hadaway managing partner Jamie Martin said: 'We have enjoyed talking to John Schorah and his team and getting to know the people at Weightmans a bit better and we wish them well for the future. Nevertheless, we wish to continue to pursue our strategy of developing a "northern law firm for national business" across our three offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester and our focus on providing legal services to northern-based businesses. 

Weightmans’ managing partner John Schorah said: 'We have real respect for Ward Hadaway, they have a really good business with very good people. We have many common interests too, but after discussions it became clear that we each want different things from our respective futures. We sensibly agreed between us it was better to focus on those things.'

He added: 'We will continue to focus on growing a balanced practice of defendant insurance work as well as litigation, transaction and advisory services to our clients, whilst further developing our innovative technology to meet changing client needs.'