Safeguarding the future

July 19, 2019

When businesses struggle, the impact can be substantial. However, Kelly Jordan, partner and head of the restructuring and insolvency team at Muckle LLP, tells Steven Hugill how a decisive, joined-up approach can mitigate that impact and protect suppliers, creditors and clients

The importance of a joined-up approach is indisputable in the business world.

Nowhere is this better reflected than at Muckle LLP, where its restructuring and insolvency team combines its niche expertise with that of the wider company to provide clients with the genuinely specialist support.

Headed by partner Kelly Jordan, the division’s trusted guidance is valued by its many clients.

Working alongside business owners, directors and professional service advisers, the team is renowned for its close relationships with banks, creditors, investors, employees and landlords.

“I think we are one of the few teams that literally deals with everyone in the company,” says Kelly, who joined North East-based Muckle in early 2013.

“There is a great atmosphere here, we are all on one floor and it’s nice to speak to people face-to- face and have that closer relationship.”

Such intimacy, says Kelly, means the restructuring and insolvency team can tailor bespoke services to clients’ individual needs much more easily.

“I draw support from across the firm,” says Kelly, who grew up in Morpeth before studying at university in Liverpool.

“I sit within the wider banking team, the rationale being that there is an element of crossover in our work.

“A lot of work I do has an insolvency element to it, but there might also be a property or employment issue, so I project manage it and draw on the wider expertise of the firm.

“We share quite a lot of contacts as a team. I’m often asked, if I’m looking after a company that is struggling financially, to help them refinance or look for additional lending, and the wider team’s network really helps with that.

“Ultimately, it’s about how you set yourself apart and our connections, the way we work closely together and the seamless service our clients receive as a result, are examples of that.”

Kelly can also call on personal experience to extend Muckle LLP’s distinguishable service.

A six-month secondment with Royal Bank of Scotland’s Manchester-based global restructuring group in 2012 gave her significant insight into the banking sector.

“I had gained quite a bit of experience in advising insolvency practitioners, doing pre-pack administrations and formal insolvency work,” reflects Kelly, “but actually working in-house for a client and understanding what their requirements, needs and priorities were was fantastic.

“I sat in with the relationship managers, who look for solutions for customers in default, and it was a great learning experience.

“It helps me massively to understand banks’ mentality, which, in turn, helps support clients’ needs at Muckle LLP.

“I’m probably one of the few restructuring and insolvency lawyers in Newcastle that has had that opportunity.”

A key element of Muckle LLP’s restructuring and insolvency team is its support for creditors, across areas such as negotiating contractual arrangements with a business in financial difficulty.

Dedicated groundwork is carried out to safeguard their outlook and ensure that if that customer or supplier does become insolvent in the future, they are in the best position to react.

“Most people might assume I only look after businesses that are just about to go bust have gone bust or are insolvency practitioners,” says Kelly.

“But what we do is not just limited to advising the people who are in financial difficulty or advising the office holders once things have gone under.

“We add value to businesses that are supplying companie which may be struggling, or creditors generally – landlords and trade creditors who might be struggling to get paid.

“It can be about renegotiating terms, through things like shortening payment terms, strengthening termination provisions and making sure clients are clear on their terms. Sometimes what they think are the terms are in fact not the case.

“We have clients that have been affected by the retail sector’s struggles, including one that involved reviewing its terms of business with Debenhams.

“It was no surprise to anyone when Debenhams finally went into administration, but we worked with the client before it did so,” reveals Kelly, who is also the North East’s elected representative on the Council for R3: Association of Business Recovery Professionals, which is the national trade body for insolvency practitioners.

“The terms were drafted at a time when the relationship between the parties was very different but now needed to be more robust.

“So we sought to amend their terms to strengthen the retention of title provisions which didn’t quite work.

“It is all about protecting clients’ position and providing practical tips to manage their situation.” Debt recovery is another area where the team works hard for its clients, providing at the same time another example of Muckle LLP’s joined-up approach.

Working closely with Beverley Oliver, who leads the company’s debt recovery team, Kelly is able to find individual solutions for clients’ needs.

“Our debt recovery team is great in terms of completing due diligence on the debtor,” says Kelly, who also reveals Muckle is developing a mobile app for users to initiate the debt recovery process more quickly.

“We will look at their Creditsafe report, see whether there have been any county court judgments and look out for insolvency proceedings that have been dismissed.

“Whenever there are warning signs, we talk regularly, and sometimes it’s about finding the right strategy to unlock payment for the specific debt.

“The relationship between Beverley and I is very strong. We can talk through the different options available to us because no two situations are the same.

“Our firm values are trust, teamwork, responsibility and care – values that are particularly important in our line of work, which is often complex and always sensitive.

“Whether our client is a supplier struggling to get paid or a business in financial difficulty, we put all our experience and expertise into helping them achieve the best possible outcome.”

Muckle LLP

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