Burness Paull turnover up 6% to £83m, profit steady

Burness Paul chair Peter Lawson

Scottish law firm Burness Paull said its turnover rose 6% to £83.2 million in the financial year ended July 31, 2023, and profit was steady at £35.5 million.

“Revenue continued to be underpinned by Burness Paull’s strengths in corporate finance, real estate, banking and funds, dispute resolution and employment,” said the firm.

“The firm is also seeing benefits from its diversification strategy, with newer and recently strengthened teams across technology, restructuring and insolvency, public law, financial services regulation, cyber and data security, family, private client, and immigration delivering double-digit percentage increases in fee income.”

Burness Paull said its notable client activity for the year included advising:

  • life and pensions consolidator Chesnara plc on the acquisition of 47,000 life insurance and critical illness policies from Canada Life;
  • Brockwell Energy with project development and Scots law aspects of the financing of the £300m 220MW North Kyle onshore wind farm;
  • Cairngorm Capital on the financing of Verso Group and the acquisition of multiple wealth management businesses;
  • Maven Capital and other shareholders on the sale of Blacktrace, a developer of scientific instrumentation, to Unchained Labs;
  • housebuilders on the sale of more than 2,000 homes in Scotland with a combined value of over £650m, and on deals for the delivery of thousands more in the private market and social housing sectors; and
  • on disputes and litigation with a combined value in excess of £1bn.

The number of partners at Burness Paull now stands at 89 and total headcount across its offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen is more than 670.

Burness Paull chair Peter Lawson said: “This is a positive set of results, which is testament to the hard work of our people and their commitment to ensuring the best possible outcomes for our clients in a complex and changing landscape.

“To increase turnover and largely maintain profitability in the context of a quieter property and M&A market is a good outcome.

“Our divisions have performed well in the face of challenging market dynamics and we continued to invest in our people, technology and facilities in line with our strategic plan.

“In particular, we seek to attract and retain the very best talent and we are confident that our regular salary reviews and remuneration levels support this aim.

“We have very intentionally prioritised long-term reward, retention and sustainable growth as this is key to delivering the evolving breadth of services and specialist expertise our clients are looking for and ensures the future success of the firm.

“We are also seeing the benefits of our diversification strategy. Technology, restructuring and insolvency, public law, financial services regulation, cyber and data security, family, private client, and immigration are practices that we have entered or bolstered in recent years.

“All are still developing areas for us but contributing in a material way to the firm’s revenue, and we expect that contribution to grow further and more profitably in the years to come.

“Looking ahead, there is little doubt that challenges remain for the business community. However, we are well-placed to help our clients navigate this environment.

“We see opportunities in a range of sectors, not least the growing renewables industry which plays to many of our strengths in areas such as project finance and development, planning, construction, regulatory issues, commercial contracts, and sale and purchase agreements.

“As a firm, we remain optimistic but not complacent in our outlook. The strategy and performance of recent years has put us in a strong position as we continue in our objective to be the leading independent law firm in Scotland advising clients across the UK and internationally.”

Burness Paull said its 2023-24 financial year will be an abbreviated eight-month reporting period of August 1, 2023, to March 31, 2024 as the firm has made the decision to change its financial year-end as a result of HM Revenue & Customs’ basis period reforms.