Durham City’s leading law firm, Swinburne Maddison LLP (Swinburne Maddison) has announced its team completed over £75m of Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) transactions for Atom bank (Atom) between June 2020 and 31 August 2021.
A Government-backed scheme, CBILS was introduced as a lifeline to assist SME firms with a turnover of less than £45 million that had lost or experienced deferred revenues because of the impact of COVID-19.
Swinburne Maddison has been working with Atom since its formation and is a member of Atom’s legal panel for secured business lending. One hundred and seven loans amounting to £75 million were transacted by Swinburne Maddison during the eight-month period, primarily by the commercial property team with the corporate team on hand to assist with any corporate and commercial elements of funding requests when required.
The volume of work was such that at the peak of demand, eight lawyers from across the firm were working hard to make sure everything was delivered on time.
The Durham-headquartered Atom, established in 2014, was the UK’s first app-based bank and as such, instructions came to Swinburne Maddison from all over the UK throughout the pandemic, with loans ranging in value from £99,990 to £5 million.
Nineteen loans were above £1 million and 47 were over £500,000, while a company in Bedford received the maximum loan available through CBILS of £5 million. Firms in Bedford, Retford, Bridlington, Essex, London and Bristol requested sums between £3 million and £4.7 million and a Middlesbrough company received the seventh highest loan of £2.2 million.
In essence, Swinburne Maddison’s role was to perfect Atom’s security. Dealing with various underwriters and their lending technical lead, Swinburne Maddison had to review the titles to any properties and carry out appropriate due diligence on any assets, as well as ensuring the correct documentation was completed so that Atom’s interests would be fully covered at all times, once the facility was in place.
Most of the legal work took place when businesses were still largely working under Covid restrictions, but due to the size and strength in depth across the firm, the CBILS operations team was able to rely on Swinburne Maddison’s wider team of lawyers and support staff to continue servicing the needs of other clients during this time.
As partner and head of real estate, Victoria Walton, explains, they really didn’t take their foot off the gas for a moment:
“All deadlines were met, and the team worked extremely well. It was a superb team effort, which could not have been met without everyone’s support. The work was extremely time pressured, particularly towards the end of the scheme when loans could not be re-sanctioned, and each transaction relied on significant volumes of documentation to be provided by those seeking funding, which was not always available until quite late in the transaction. We were also very conscious that these loans represented a lifeline for many of the businesses we were dealing with, so there was an enormous amount of pressure on our team to coordinate everything in time to hit the completion dates and get the funding in place.
“The volume of work did present some unique challenges, which on occasion, would undoubtedly have been easier to resolve had we all been working through these matters together in the same room.
“However, thanks to our tried and tested agile working programme and sound ICT infrastructure, with all case files being 100 per cent electronic, our team were able to work remotely without any difficulty and with full access to all the required information on a particular matter at a moment’s notice.
“In fact, this method of working was so successful that we have since developed our flexible working policy into a new ‘hybrid’ working policy, which will allow everyone at all levels of the firm to adopt an element of flexibility into their work.”
Commenting on Swinburne Maddison’s work, Atom Bank’s technical lending lead, Paul Jordan, said:
“The support we got from Swinburne Maddison throughout the pandemic was great and we really appreciated the effort. It was an extremely busy time for us all.
“In August, after CBILS ended, we launched our Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) product range after being accredited as an approved lender by the British Business Bank. These loans are also designed to provide essential support to businesses in the wake of COVID-19 and replace CBILS, so we are delighted to be working with Swinburne Maddison again in transacting these loans. We have an excellent working relationship with the Swinburne team.”
On May 1, the start of its new financial year, Swinburne Maddison undertook a reorganisation of its management team before embarking on an ambitious three-year expansion plan. Since then, the business is reported to have continued to perform strongly and is comfortably on track to hit its growth targets with every department currently ahead of target.