Legal chief who set up county council 'arms length' commercial law firm quits

Paul Francis

Political Editor

The man who spearheaded the creation of Kent County Council's pioneering legal services company has quit.

Geoff Wild masterminded the development of KCC’s spin-off Invicta Law and was a well-known figure in the field. He pioneered the concept of in-house council services operating as commercial enterprises.

Invicta Law was the UK’s first stand-alone local authority trading company and employed 125 public sector lawyers.

However, he has now resigned amid reports that the new arms-length firm he headed was not bringing in the level of business as expected.

A spokesman for Invicta Law said: 'For personal reasons, Geoff Wild has resigned as CEO. Geoff has decided that, having seen Invicta Law established as a company, now is the right time to move his own career into new areas. Guy Record has been appointed interim chief executive officer.'

The company was set up just last year after several years of discussion about the idea. It began trading with a 10-year contract to provide the council's legal work.

However, county councillors were told last week that the operation had fallen short in relation to its promised dividend.

KCC finance director Andy Wood told a cross-party committee that Invicta Law had been expected to deliver a dividend in 2017-18 of £1m but posted losses of half a million.

He said the company was “way off its business plan” and the question for KCC then became what was to be done.

“As a shareholder we have delivered a very strong message back to the board that [it was] totally unacceptable and [they] needed to correct that.”

It followed questions from councillors about the viability of the business and how it had been audited.

Cllr Harry Rayner (Con) said: “How did a prospectus brought in early in 2016 or late 2017 ….how did that look like against early negative figures in 2017 of £500,000? How did they sell it to those that brought into it? Did they deliver on what they said and if not, why not?”

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