The details disclosed here all occurred when Fiona Woolf was President of the Law Society. She has now been appointed to head the child abuse inquiry.
When I finally received an adjudication from the Law Society (now the Solicitors Regulation Authority) I was amazed to find that although they ruled that the contract was unlawful they didn’t intend to take any further action because they stated that “it only happened in a small number of cases” and that the firm had renegotiated the contract. I had already told them the value of the debts was £100m – when I left the firm there were 70-80,000 cases. For an idea of how wrong their assessment is see this data supplied by the Ministry of Justice following my Freedom of Information request. £44m in illegal charges were applied in the year of my complaint.
Here is the SRA adjudication:
The chronology here is important:
On 24 October 2005 my employer wrote to my solicitors, Bindmans:
Because I knew the contract was illegal and because the firm refused to deal with the issue, I reported them to the Law Society on 3 May 2006. I was immediately made “redundant”. In fact I’d never known the firm to act so quickly in any other matter relating to me.
On 7 August 2006 the firm stated this, at the mediation held to deal with my unfair dismissal/PIDA claim:and: In March 2007 the Solicitors Regulation Authority ruled that although the contract was illegal it only happened in a small number of cases and that the contract had been amended. How on earth did they reach that conclusion? Either the firm did not give them accurate information or they failed to investigate my complaint adequately.
Just over a year after this adjudication a complaint was made to the SRA about the firm’s charges, which incredibly they were still applying after the adjudication, and this was their response (this is taken from an on-line consumer forum):
And this is letter written by Weightmans, a year after the SRA adjudication, adding the 16.4% collection charge:
In my view, the fact that the firm was still applying the charges, after they had been ruled illegal, shows utter contempt for the law, the SRA, consumers and everything I had been through.