Capita plc today announced it had acquired Eclipse Hardware Ltd (known as Eclipse Legal Systems) for an undisclosed sum. Eclipse provides case management software and services to over 20,000 legal professionals in law firms, Alternative Business Structures, claims departments and commercial organisations. Eclipse’s core Proclaim software integrates file management, document management, workflow, reporting, accounting, time recording, task and diary functions into a single desktop tool. Clients benefit from more efficient, automated processes and more effective risk and compliance procedures.

Sean Massey, managing director at Capita Justice and Technology Solutions, said: “The acquisition of Eclipse, the second acquisition of a private sector software provider in the last four months, will further enhance our range of solutions for the professional services market. Capita is looking forward to working with the experienced and dedicated team in Bradford, supporting Eclipse’s continued growth and developing innovative software and solutions that will meet the challenges its customers face.”

Steve Ough, founder and Chief Software Architect at Eclipse, said: “By joining the Capita family we are putting in place the next stage of growth plans, building on our success and enabling us to further our expansion in the most effective way. We are delighted to be entering this new phase of growth.” Eclipse has over 150 employees based in Bradford.

COMMENT: The day I’m in hospital for surgery is the day the biggest story of the month breaks, teach me to be a sickie! So, Capita Justice & Technology Solutions… over the last year the group has been acquiring a portfolio of products and services to support a “joined-up” justice infrastructure embracing everything from law firms through to the courts, prosecuting and enforcement agencies. The acquisition of Eclipse, with its powerful case and management system that is ideal for departmental tasks and matter types is a smart move as it offers a solution that will fit into many local and central government law and justice-related departments and agencies.

How much? The price is undisclosed (as is normal in these situations) however we suspect it will be one of the biggest legal IT deals of the last couple of years, as at least one other major vendor was in talks with Eclipse. We can obviously use the Top Gear Test by checking out what new cars Eclipse founders Steve Ough and Russell Thomson. We can also look at Capita’s May 2014 interim results, which reveal that during the previous six months the Justice & Technology Solutions division purchased Liberty for £6.5million + Retain International for £18.8 million + AMT-Sybex for a total package worth £105 million. Given Eclipse’s profile and trading record (last year’s turnover was £9.3 million), we’d suggest a figure of £24 million would be in the ballpark however, as ever, readers are welcome to suggest their own views.