Firm ref: 389706
Sol ref: 109058
Our ref: TRI/3417-2010
MAIDMENTS SOLICITORS LIMITED of SALFORD GREATER MANCHESTER
ALLAN LESLIE MAIDMENT (Ad 15 November 1976)
Status: Sole Director
REGULATORY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
1. Mr Maidment, the sole Director of Maidments Solicitors Limited (the firm) agrees to the following outcome of the investigation into his professional conduct under reference TRI/3417-2010.
2. A desk based investigation by the SRA was commenced following the referral of information from the Legal Complaints Service. A client complaint had been received in relation to the manner in which the firm had handled a claim for compensation as a result of chest disease contracted whilst working in the coal mining industry.
3. As a result of the desk based investigation carried out by the SRA, 6 client files were reviewed. From a review of these files it was apparent that in addition to receiving payment under the statutory scheme, the firm also charged clients a contingency fee equivalent to 15% of the damages plus VAT in the event that a claim was successful.
4. It was established that the firm handled a total of 45 miners compensation claims in this way.
5. The client care letters sent by the firm did not provide advice to clients about the terms of the Claims Handling Agreements which had been set up by the Department of Trade and Industry in 1998/1999, or that under those schemes clients would not be liable for any adverse costs orders. Furthermore, clients were not advised that costs were received by the firm from the Department of Trade and Industry, and the additional monies they charged by way of a success fee were, therefore, improper.
6. Mr Maidment undertakes to:-
- 6.1 Within 3 months of the date of this agreement make all reasonable efforts to trace and contact the 45 clients affected by the arrangements referred to above.
- 6.2 Within 28 days of each client being traced repay the success fee deducted including VAT with interest at a rate of 3.5% per annum.
- 6.3 Provide monthly updates to the SRA including a list of all clients' names and addresses and amounts reimbursed and/or other such information or documentation the SRA may require from time to time.
- 6.4 Within 9 months of this agreement provide the SRA with a list of all untraced clients together with a request for authorisation to pay the balance relating to those clients to a charity of Mr Maidment's choice.
- 6.5 Within 1 month of receiving the SRA's authorisation, pay the outstanding balance to charity and provide the SRA with written evidence to that effect.
7. Mr Maidment agrees to submit to the following findings being made against him that:-
- 7.1 He acted in breach of Rules 1(a), (c), (d), and (e) of the Solicitors' Practice Rules 1990, in charging success fees in miners' compensation claims, which were deducted from clients' damages without advising the clients of the terms of the Claims Handling Agreements set up by the Department of Trade and Industry and that the success fees were not in the clients best interests;
- 7.2 He acted in breach of Rule 15 of the Solicitors Practice Rules 1990, in that clients were not advised about how their miners' compensation claims were funded and clients were not sent bills of costs explaining the costs charged bv the firm or the costs received from the Department of Trade and Industry.
8. Mr Maidment puts the following forward in mitigation:-
- 8.1 The firm was not involved with any referrals from a Trade Union.
- 8.2 Clients were aware from the outset that they would be charged a proportion of their damages in the event of a successful claim.
- 8.3 The matters of concern which have been identified, took place several years ago.
9. The overall circumstances of Mr Maidments' handling of miners' compensation claims could justify a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. However, in view of the restitution proposed to be made to clients and the admissions set out in paragraph 7 above, the sanction imposed at paragraph 10 below is a proportionate outcome to the investigation in all the circumstances.
10. Mr Maidment submits to a reprimand in relation to the findings made at paragraph 7 above.
11. Mr Maidment agrees that this outcome will be published by the SRA and that it may also be disclosed to any person upon request or otherwise.
12. Mr Maidment agrees that he will not act in any way inconsistent with this agreement by, for example, denying the misconduct admitted at paragraph 7 above.
13. The date of this agreement is 08 July 2011.
Maidment Solicitors Limited
Head of Legal Policy
Solicitors Regulation Authority
Solicitors Regulation Authority