Quantuma oversees administration of Savants Restructuring

10 November 2021 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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The UK insolvencies market is heating up, as the number of companies falling into administration rises with the fallback of government pandemic support. The changes have come too late for Savants Restructuring and Savants Covenant Advisory, however, which have appointed Quantuma to oversee their own administration with immediate effect.

With many companies heavily impacted by the lockdown brought in to combat the Covid-19 outbreak, Government support such as the job retention scheme and emergency loans kept a huge number afloat in the worst moments of the crisis. This also saw the number of insolvencies fall over the first half of 2021. Now, even as insolvencies begin to rise once again, Savants Restructuring and its subsidiary, Savants Covenant Advisory, have shuttered doors.

Ceasing trade with immediate effect, the move comes after Adrian Duncan – a sole practitioner and Director of Savants – had his insolvency licence withdrawn by the industry watchdog. Carl Jackson and Michael Hall of business advisory firm Quantuma have been appointed as joint administrators of the London headquartered insolvency firm. The news also saw 160 active client cases transferred to Quantuma.

Quantuma oversees administration of Savants Restructuring

Carl Jackson, joint administrator and Chief Executive of Quantuma, said, “These matters are both complex and challenging, with the owners and directors of 160 companies with whom Savants had active engagements at the heart of our short-term priorities. We are working at pace through the transferred client engagements and will be contacting them directly.”

While the online presence of Savants Restructuring seems to have disappeared, a website for Savants Covenant Advisory is still live. It claims that the firm has “administered over 550 corporate insolvency appointments and over 750 employer covenant reviews,” while being “fully licensed to act in insolvency arrangements.”

Licence revoked

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales’ (ICAEW) quality assurance department conducted a standard monitoring visit to Duncan’s firm during December 2017, after which they raised a number of concerns to the insolvency licensing committee, who then referred the matter to the professional conduct department.

As reported by Accounting Web, a letter was then sent to Duncan in August 2018, informing him that Savants was to be investigated over the concerns raised. These included whether sufficient controls were in place to ensure that all matters relating to his insolvency appointment were dealt with in line with the insolvency legislation required; whether excessive fees had been drawn on cases; and whether there had been a failure to pay the petitioning creditors in priority to Duncan’s own fees; among other issues.

The letter also requested that Duncan respond with answers and information in relation to the concerns. After a number of deadlines for this passed, the ICAEW decided the situation was appropriate for disciplinary action during May 2019. After a tribunal, Duncan was originally sanctioned for failing to information, explanations and documents requested, issued under Disciplinary Bye-law 13. In July 2020, this saw him fined £1,000, and reprimanded for each complaint on top of costs of £8,977.

Duncan appeared before the ICAEW appeal committee (AC) this February to contest costs and sanctions set by the disciplinary committee (DC), dating back to July 2020. The grounds for his appeal included arguments that the penalties were excessively harsh and disproportionate, while the DC’s approach to “the cost issue” had been “inaccurate.”  The appeal committee not only rejected the appeal, but then decided to increase the disciplinary sanction against Duncan. A further £6,135 was added for the appeal. The reprimand was also raised to a severe reprimand.

As published by Gov.UK, Duncan further disputed the matter. Taking the case to the ICAEW Review Committee (RC), with hearings between November 2020 and January 2021, the RC eventually made the decision to withdraw Duncan’s licence, “as a result of persistent failures of competence, failures to abide by conditions set, failure to co-operate with the ICAEW and breaches of regulations, leading to concerns that the regulatory objectives set out in s.391 of the Insolvency Act 1986 would be undermined and resulting in a risk to the public.”

While Duncan submitted an appeal to this, a panel of the ICAEW’s Appeal Committee (AP) met in September 2021, and made the decision to dismiss this. The AP also ordered the appellant to pay Respondent’s costs summarily assessed in the sum of £17,500. Accordingly, Duncan’s license has been removed.