The Solicitors Regulation Authority is to investigate the likely impact of criminal legal aid fee cuts on the viability of law firms amid warnings that the cost to the profession of collapses could spiral.
Law firms are facing thousands of claims for professional negligence over their involvement in ‘right to buy’ work, it has emerged. Last week the judiciary issued a new right-to-buy practice direction to deal with the potential deluge of cases.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has launched “forensic investigations” into 10 law firms that may have breached the personal injury referral fee ban, in a move that will be seen as a warning to the profession. Meanwhile, 141 firms without indemnity insurance are heading for closure.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority does not know the insurance position of at least 50 law firms, but there may be even more out there uninsured, it admitted yesterday. Those yet to inform the regulator that they do not yet have insurance face enforcement action, it warned.
Some 153 law firms today entered the last-chance saloon after failing to secure professional indemnity insurance (PII) during the last 30 days. Under the new PII arrangements, they are now in the second stage 60-day ‘cessation period’.
The possibility of clients buying ‘top-up’ cover to fill the gaps in compulsory professional indemnity insurance has been floated by the Legal Services Board as it set the scene for a significant shake-up of current financial protection arrangements.
The number of law firms that failed to find professional indemnity insurance by 1 October has continued to climb, Legal Futures can report. It has also emerged that law firms are responding slowly to the next deadline facing them – practising certificate renewal by 31 October.
The vast majority of personal injury law firms appear to have renewed their indemnity insurance on acceptable terms despite the instability in the sector, according to a survey of nearly 500 law firms conducted last week.
Harris Cartier – a 26-lawyer niche litigation and corporate practice with offices in London and Slough – has become the first firm to be placed into administration following the failure to arrange professional indemnity insurance for 1 October.
The regulators of solicitors and barristers have been accused of failing to collaborate closely enough on their responses to the Legal Education and Training Review, after they announced they would pursue independent strategies for ensuring competency.