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The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulates solicitors and solicitors' practices in England and Wales. The SRA has the power to close a solicitor's practice/law firm. This is referred to as an intervention.
When the SRA closes down a law firm, that firm stops operating. The SRA also takes into its possession all the papers relating to clients and money which the law firm was holding.
We are appointed by the SRA from time to time to act as its agent. Our role is to assist the SRA in closing down the law firm. We also take possession of all client papers held by the firm on behalf of the SRA.
Once a firm has been intervened, it ceases to operate. This means that it can no longer act for you. At that point, you no longer have a legal representative. You need to appoint a new legal representative to represent you and continue any work on your matter.
The SRA will write to all clients where the matter is identified as being active or where wills and deeds have been located. You will be asked to complete and return a file request form to us in which you can state where you wish for your papers to be sent.
We do not automatically take over the on-going cases from the intervened law firm. In some instances, we may be able to act for you if you wish, although you have no obligation to instruct us and nor do we have any obligation to accept your instructions.
Our role as the agent of the SRA is to distribute files and papers according to the clients' wishes.
If we do not hear from you within four weeks we will assume that you do not want your file and it will remain with the SRA. It is therefore important that you contact us within the four weeks period. If you do not request your file, it may eventually be destroyed by the SRA, although that will not happen for some years.
There may be outstanding work on your file, even if you thought that all work had been completed. For example, on a property matter, the registration of your property may still be outstanding. This means that the property still needs to be registered in your name. Sometimes, there may be upcoming deadlines which may affect your claim or prevent you from pursuing it in the future.
It is therefore important that you obtain your file and instruct a new solicitor. In your file request form, you can ask us to send your file directly to your new solicitor.
Sometimes, we will require someone else's consent before releasing your papers. Below are some examples:
- if you have a mortgage on your property, we may need consent from your lender
- if the documents in your file are in someone else's name, we may need consent from that person
- if the file of papers relates to someone who has passed away, we will need consent from the named executors
We require identification to ensure that the documents are sent to the correct parties. Sometimes, a law firm may have more than one client with the same name.
You will not have to pay to have your files and documents to be sent either to you or to a new solicitor.
Files will be sent to you by First Class post.
All documents being sent direct to your new solicitor will, whenever possible, be sent by DX delivery. This is the delivery service between member firms and organisations. If your new solicitor is not a member of the DX, then your documents will be sent out as shown above.
You have freedom of choice as to which solicitors you now wish to use. If you do not know another solicitor who can take over your file then your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help you with this. If you have access to the internet, you can also search for solicitors in your area by visiting the Law Society's website. Alternatively, if your matter is publicly funded, you may contact the Legal Aid Agency on 0300 200 2020.
The SRA takes possession of all the money held by the intervened firm. The SRA will often appoint an agent to examine the accounts records to try and establish how much money the firm was holding for each client.
If you believe that the law firm owed you money, you will need to complete and return a claim form to the Claims Management Unit of the SRA.
The Claims Management Unit or we may contact you during the process for further information and will provide you with guidance as to what they will need from you to prove your claim.
If you owe money to the closed firm, then this should be paid to the SRA and not the closed firm. All cheques should be made payable to the Solicitors Regulation Authority and sent to us.
If you want to make a complaint about the service you received from the closed firm you can contact the Legal Ombudsman on +44 (0)300 555 0333. There are time limits for making such complaints and further information is available at legalombudsman.org.uk
The SRA will write to you if any wills or deeds were recovered from the closed firm. The distribution of wills and deeds is dealt by the SRA. You can contact them on +44 (0)247 633 9250 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org