The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulates the conduct and standards of all solicitors and solicitors’ practices in England and Wales. The SRA has the ability and the power to close a firm of solicitors if it considers that it is in the best interest of clients and the public to do so. This is known as an intervention.
The SRA will often appoint an ‘Intervention Agent’ to help collect files from the closed firm and freezing its bank accounts so your money is safe. Lester Aldridge is an appointed Intervention Agent.
What is Lester Aldridge’s role?
When the SRA intervenes they use an Intervention Agent, such as ourselves, to help with the process. As an appointed agent to the SRA, we visit the premises of the intervened firm with an SRA representative to collect their files on the day of the intervention.
However, we don’t continue the practice of the intervened firm or take over their clients’ matters.
Also, we don’t take over responsibility for payment of any trading debts of an intervened firm. If you are a creditor, you will need to contact the former principal(s) of the intervened firm directly, or their administrators (as applicable).
If your firm has been closed by the SRA, you can contact our Interventions Team on 01202 786341 or by email at interventions@LA-Law.com. If you are worried about your file or money you will find the answer to your query within our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
What happens to my file?
All client files are removed from the closed firm’s premises and held by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Files that relate to active and on-going matters are known as live files. Live files are held at our offices for a limited period. All other files are held by the SRA in Coventry.
To request the return of your live files, please complete and return the File Request Form with proof of your identity and return it to the Interventions Team. You can download copy of the File Request Form. Alternatively, please contact the Interventions Team and we can send a copy of the form to you.
Why do I need to send proof of identity?
Copy identification is requested to ensure that documents are sent to the correct parties. For example, it may be that the closed firm had more than one client with the same name and by providing your copy identification, the SRA and its Agent are able to ensure that the documents are being released correctly.
Please see our guidance sheet on the right-hand side of the page for acceptable proof of identity documents.
If your file relates to:
- a conveyancing transaction
- a company, minor, trust or administration of an estate
- you are acting as Attorney or Deputy for a client of a closed firm
There may be some additional information we will need from you. Please see our guidance sheet for more information.
Closed files, deeds and wills
We will not hold any files that related to closed or completed cases, wills or deeds. These files are held at the SRA’s Intervention Archives (IA) in Coventry. Please contact them directly:
Solicitors Regulation Authority, Intervention Archives, Unit A, Colonnade Point, Prologis Park, Coventry, CV6 4BX
By telephone: 0370 606 2555
Will I have to pay for the file to be released?
You will not have to pay to have your files and documents to be sent either to you or to a new solicitor.
My matter has completed, why do I need my file?
Even if you think your matter had completed at the time of the firm’s closure, there may be outstanding work on the file. For example, if your file relates to a property matter it may be that post-completion formalities are outstanding (i.e. the registration of your property may not have been completed which would mean the property would not yet be registered in your name). If you are concerned that there may be any outstanding work to be done on your file or if you have any concerns with the way in which your matter was dealt with you may wish to have your file sent direct to a new solicitor so that this can be checked.
What happens to my money?
When a firm is closed, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) takes possession of all the monies held by the closed firm and holds it on behalf of clients.
I was a client of the firm
If you think the closed firm should have been holding money on your behalf, you should complete and return a Claim Form to the SRA’s Claims Management Unit together with any evidence in support. You will also need to send a copy of identification documentation. The SRA will consider your claim and contact you directly.
For more information on making a claim to the Compensation Fund, please visit the SRA’s website.
I was not a client of the firm
If you are a creditor, you should contact the former principal(s) of the closed firm directly, or their administrators (as applicable), as neither the SRA or its Agent takes over responsibility for payment of any trading debts of the firm.
What if I owe money to the firm?
If you owe money to the firm for outstanding invoices, costs and disbursements, your liability for payment is unaffected by the closure.
You should not send payment to the closed firm. Rather you should send payment to the SRA’s Agent instead. The Agent will account to the SRA for any payments received.
What if I have received an invoice after the firm’s closure?
Any principal(s) of a closed firm has the right to recover costs for work carried out prior to the date that the SRA closed the firm. If the firm carried out work on your behalf for which you were not invoiced prior to its closure, you may receive an invoice in respect of such work.
As settlement of the invoice is a matter for you, you may wish to seek advice from new solicitors before providing payment. You should not send payment to the closed firm. Rather you should send payment to the Agent instead.
To view the latest interventions click here.
Frequently Asked Questions
An intervention occurs when the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) closes a firm of solicitors. The SRA has the statutory power, granted by Parliament, to do this to protect the interest of the clients and the public.
When a firm of solicitors is forced to close, the SRA will take possession of all files and monies held by the closed firm. The SRA will often use an Agent, such as Lester Aldridge, to help with this process. The Agent does not take over or continue the practice of the closed firm and does not take over conduct of any work.
The closed firm is no longer able to act on behalf of its clients. If you are a client, you should consider finding a new firm of solicitors to act on your behalf as soon as possible.
Most importantly you should act quickly. There may be a time limit that you need to adhere to if you’re a former client of an intervened firm with an on-going matter. You should contact a new firm of solicitors as soon as possible to act on your behalf.
We may be able to help you, but you are not obliged to use us. Equally, we are not obliged to act for you. You are free to choose a firm that suits your requirements.
Also if your matter is legally aided you’ll need to find a firm of solicitors that operate a Legal Aid Franchise. Unfortunately we don’t, but you can find a list of solicitors in England and Wales on the Law Society’s website who offer legal aid.
If the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has concerns about a firm of solicitors it will close the practice down. This is done to protect the interests of the clients and the public.
The SRA may close a firm if a member of that firm is thought to be behaving dishonestly, if a practice has been abandoned or if the firm is believed to have breached the SRA Code of Conduct or the SRA Accounts Rules.
Although the specific circumstances of the intervention remain confidential, the general statutory grounds are usually published by the SRA, which you can view on their website.
Our role does not extend to dealing with complaints regarding the service provided by a closed firm. If you have complaints regarding the firm, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman directly by using the following details:
PO Box 6806
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By telephone: 0300 555 0333
You should also be aware that there are time restrictions regarding making complaints to the Legal Ombudsman, so act as soon as possible. You can find further helpful information on the Legal Ombudsman’s website.