The power to close down firms of solicitors in certain circumstances is given to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (the SRA) by Parliament. The process is referred to as an intervention. Following an intervention the SRA takes possession of all papers and money held by the firm.

We are appointed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority from time to time to act as it's agent in relation to interventions into firms of solicitors. In such situations, we take possession of all client related papers and monies held by the firm on behalf of the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Once a firm has been intervened, it is closed and is no longer able to act for you. The SRA will be writing to all clients who had current files, Wills or Deeds at the intervened firm and that are now in the SRA's possession. You will be asked to provide instructions on where you now wish those files and papers to be sent. You should complete the File Request Form which has been sent to you and return it to us as soon as possible. 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. We do not take over all matters being dealt with by the closed firm - our role is to distribute the files and papers in accordance with the clients' wishes.

If we do not hear from you within 4 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 4 weeks. If you do not request your file it may eventually be destroyed by the SRA, although that will not happen for some years.

We are not acting on your behalf and there may be outstanding work on the file even though you thought all the work had been completed.

If your file relates to a property matter it may be that post completion formalities are outstanding. For example, the registration of your property may not have been completed which would mean that the property would not yet be registered in your name.

There are various matters e.g. dispute or personal injury cases where your file may be subject to important time limits. By obtaining your file, your new solicitor can ensure that any applicable time limits are not missed as this may affect your claim or prevent you from pursuing it in the future.

If you are concerned that there may be any outstanding matters 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.

If you have a mortgage on your property then we may also need consent from your lender before your file can be released.

If your documents are in someone else's name as well as your own then we will need to have signed consent and copy identification from everyone the closed firm was acting for.

If you are requesting the release of a file or other documents for someone who has died where you have been named as an Executor, then before these documents can be sent to you or your new solicitor, it will be necessary for all named Executors to provide signed authority and copy identification. In these circumstances a copy of the deceased's Death Certificate will also be needed.

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 we are able ensure that the documents are being released correctly.

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 Wills and Deeds will be sent by Special Delivery.

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 at www.lawsociety.org.uk/choosingandusing/findasolicitor. Alternatively, if your matter is legally aided, you may contact the Community Legal Service Directory Line on 0845 345 4345.

If you have public funding to support your matter e.g. Legal Aid you will need to appoint a new solicitor who is authorised to carry out such work. Please ask your new solicitor to confirm that they are authorised to conduct such work when contacting us to request your file.

The SRA has taken possession of all money held by the closed firm. The SRA will appoint an agent to examine the accounts records to try to establish how much money is held on behalf of each client. If you believe that you are owed money you will need to complete and return the Claim Form to the Claims Management Unit of the SRA, the address of which is on the Claim Form.

If you submit a claim form, this does not mean you or your company are automatically entitled to a payment as this will depend on the evidence available in support of your claim. The time it takes to deal with your claim will depend on the evidence available and the complexity of the claim. 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.

More information can be obtained at www.sra.org.uk/claim or by contacting the Claims Management Unit on 0121 329 6830 or by email at claims.management@sra.org.uk.

If you owe money to the closed firm, then this should be paid to us and not to the closed firm. All cheques should be made payable to the 'Solicitors Regulation Authority'

If you want to make a complaint about the service you received from the closed firm you can contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333. There are time limits for making such complaints and further information is available at www.legalombudsman.org.uk

If the closed firm was storing your Will or Deeds for safe keeping, the SRA will also be writing to you. However, we do not deal with the distribution of Wills and Deeds. This is handled directly by the SRA. If you do not receive a letter from the SRA, you may wish to contact them on 0247 633 9250 or by email at interventionarchivefile@sra.org.uk

There is more information regarding interventions on the SRA's website at: www.sra.org.uk/help

If you have any queries about anything that has not been covered please contact our Forensic Investigation and Intervention Department:

Tel: +44 (0)20 8394 6400
Email: fiid@russell-cooke.co.uk