By Ian McConnell

Business Editor

Glasgow-based Alston Law, which specialises in remortgaging and debt recovery, has been acquired by the Scottish professional services group being built by legal sector veteran Rob Aberdein.

Mr Aberdein’s recently launched Moray Group, which has adopted Simpson & Marwick as its primary legal brand for the business it is building following a previous deal, will establish its national headquarters and operations hub in Alston Law’s 6,000 sq ft offices in Renfield Street in Glasgow. The addition of Alston Law’s 40-strong team will take the headcount of the expanding professional services business to more than 70. And the acquisition brings contracts with major housebuilders and lenders.

Denise Loney, outgoing managing director of Alston Law, will remain as a director with Simpson & Marwick.

It was announced last October that Scottish residential property, conveyancing and estate agency operation Simpson & Marwick was – following a “mutual and amicable demerger” from global law firm Clyde & Co – becoming part of the newly launched Aberdeins group. Aberdeins has since been renamed Moray Group.

Mr Aberdein, who announced the launch of Aberdeins on September 30 with ambitions for rapid growth and an emphasis on using technology, became managing partner of Simpson & Marwick with the deal unveiled last October.

He yesterday praised Alston Law’s “shrewd and forward-looking” early adoption of technology.

It is intended that Alston Law’s support staff and systems, including human resources, finance, marketing and information technology, will be the “foundations for the growth” of Simpson & Marwick.

Mr Aberdein has highlighted his intention to develop the Simpson & Marwick brand beyond its current property and estate agency brief and revive it as a major, full-service law firm.

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The residential property division was a niche area of the legal practice when Simpson & Marwick as a whole merged with, and changed its name to, Clyde & Co in 2015.

Since then, Clyde & Co has in Scotland focused on growth of its core specialisms of dispute resolution, professional liability, insurance, commercial property, healthcare

and employment law. The Simpson & Marwick name was preserved with the demerger from Clyde & Co of the residential property, conveyancing and estate agency operation, which has offices in Edinburgh and North Berwick.

The Alston Law deal will take the annual turnover of the business being built by Moray Group to £5 million.

Moray Group has a financial target of achieving a turnover of £10m by the end of 2021.

On the legal side, its focus will be on estate agency, conveyancing, debt recovery, wills and executries, powers of attorney, family law and accessible corporate law for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Alston Law is best known for its lender services, in particular remortgages and debt and asset recovery.

Its specialisms include litigation to recover loans, commercial debt and assets including property. The firm also has extensive experience in the asset and motor finance recovery sector.

The Alston Law brand will continue for all litigation and debt recovery services.

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All property and conveyancing services, including remortgaging, will now be part of the Simpson & Marwick brand.

Mr Aberdein said: “We know the lender services sector well. This is a tremendous opportunity to develop an area where we have the technology, understand regulatory compliance and where both customer service and specialist knowledge are coveted by clients.

“We understand the sensitivities that are particular to the Alston Law client base. Our first job has been to meet with clients and reassure them that they will continue to see the same outstanding levels of service and expertise. Indeed, we plan to invest in enhancing the service they receive.”

Ms Loney said: “We’re incredibly proud of the team and what they have achieved.

“Becoming part of a firm like Simpson & Marwick is the ideal way to start the next, exciting chapter for the firm and I have no doubt that everyone involved will go on to enjoy considerable success.”

Richard Loudon, chairman of Simpson & Marwick, said: “Adding the Alston Law specialisms to our property-related work is a superb addition to the business.”

Mr Aberdein said: “We expect to help almost 10,000 Scots with their remortgage during 2021 and we hope that many of those people will become long-term Simpson & Marwick clients for both estate agency and legal services in the future.”

Moray Group “intends further rapid expansion, driven by acquisitions of well-established legal firms with untapped potential”. It also plans to bolt on services including financial services and property letting.

When he announced the launch of his new professional services firm last September, Mr Aberdein declared: “We are about to deliver the biggest shake-up to the Scottish legal scene in decades. Make no mistake, our intention is to be disruptive and we know that won’t make us popular with everyone. “

He claimed: “This is long overdue.”