GT Law “strongly denies any wrongdoing” over Sonae litigation

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7 August 2015


SRA: to decide on “appropriate action”

GT Law, one of the two firms referred to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) by Mr Justice Jay over the Sonae litigation, has said that it “strongly denies any wrongdoing”.

Sitting at the High Court in Manchester last month, the judge not only dismissed over 16,000 claims brought under a group litigation order following an industrial fire in Merseyside, but accused two of the claimant firms, GT Law and Walker Barr, of misconduct.

Mr Justice Jay said there were “obvious errors and inconsistencies” in a questionnaire and statement of truth prepared for the claimant Francis Glascott by Patrick White, who was working for GT Law.

The judge said the signature on the statement of truth looked “nothing like” the claimant’s signature elsewhere.

“Mr White maintained that it was Mr Glascott’s signature. I am not satisfied that it is.”

Jay J said Mr White was not a solicitor, “he was acting under the direction of his principals”, and the matter “not merely leaves an unpleasant miasma of concern and dubiety in relation to Mr Glascott’s case, it has the potential to infect the integrity of GT Law’s processes overall, and other claims”.

Gordon Tucker, director of First Stop Legal Services, which owns the Liverpool-based law firm, said: “GT Law strongly denies any wrongdoing following the concerns raised by Mr Justice Jay.

“Our clients’ best interests and our integrity are always paramount to us and we take these allegations very seriously.

“We are continuing to investigate and are fully co-operating with our regulatory body, the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We will not be making any further comment until the full facts are established.”

Delivering judgment in Saunderson and others v Sonae Industria (UK) [2015] EWHC 2264 (QB), Mr Justice Jay also referred Walker Barr, based in Blackburn, to the SRA.

He said that in the case of one claimants represented by the firm, Steven Woolvine, there was one questionnaire completed and signed by him and another, which was “neither signed nor completed by him”.

The judge went on: “It contains several errors, and Mr Woolvine told me on oath that the signature is not his. I accept his evidence.

“It follows that Walter Barr, or their agents, have forged Mr Woolvine’s signature.”

Legal Futures failed to obtain a comment from Gill Walker, director of the two-partner Blackburn firm, but she told The Liverpool Echo earlier in the week that there were “no foundations” for the allegation.

“We acknowledge the judgment and we are actively carrying out our own investigations,” she said.

A spokesman for the SRA said: “We are looking at the judgment sent to us by Mr Justice Jay and will decide on appropriate action”.

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