Solicitor rebuked for making direct approaches to potential clients

Spreadsheet: Solicitor received names in error

A solicitor who contacted hundreds of people on a spreadsheet he was accidentally sent to ask if they wanted to bring data protection claims over the error has been rebuked.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said that Aidan Loy, legal director of Lincoln firm C4J, broke the rules prohibiting unsolicited approaches to members of the public.

According to an SRA notice published last week, Mr Loy received an email from a client in March 2023. Attached to the email, “apparently inadvertently”, was a spreadsheet containing the personal details of 963 individuals, including their contact details, bank information, tax information and pay arrangements.

A week later, Mr Loy emailed 619 of them, none of whom were clients, to inform them that their data had been sent to him and that “he could assist them in litigation to recover damages and invited them to instruct the firm to act”.

The SRA said this was a “targeted and unsolicited marketing approach to members of the public”, in breach of paragraph 8.9 of the SRA code of conduct. This also damaged public trust and confidence in the profession.

The regulator said a written rebuke was appropriate given that Mr Loy was a senior solicitor and manager and “had shown no insight or remorse”. It added: “Some public sanction was required to protect the public interest and to ensure the behaviour was not repeated.”

A more serious sanction was not considered to be proportionate given that there had been no lasting or significant harm, there was no evidence that the behaviour had been repeated, and there was no evidence of dishonesty or a lack of integrity.

C4J, which stands for ‘Contractors for Justice’, became an alternative business structure last year. It specialises in cases for people classed as contractors and focused on workers’ rights claims, often for holiday pay or unlawful deductions.

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