A Hull law firm has been closed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) because there was “reason to suspect dishonesty” on the part of a partner and member of staff.
Intervening in Ward Legal, the SRA said it had these suspicions in relation to director Andrew March and employee Mantas Montvydas.
The firm’s website is still up and running, and a cached version from 8 November described Mr Montvydas as a trainee solicitor supporting the probate department, as well as an “experienced legal interpreter”, fluent in English and Lithuanian.
Mr March, head of the firm’s property department, was described on the cached version of the site as having “many years of experience in dealing with both commercial and residential property”.
The SRA also intervened in the practice of the firm’s other director and minority shareholder, family lawyer Simon Rosenthall, with his being adjudged bankrupt on 26 November 2015 one of the reasons cited. According to Companies House, he ceased being a director a week before this.
The firm, which had offices in Hull and Beverley, was a general practice covering conveyancing, family, landlord and tenant, planning, and wills and probate work. Its website said it had six lawyers plus administrative staff. Companies House also showed that HSBC has a fixed and floating charge over all of the firm’s assets.
According to the website, Ward Legal, founded in 2010, aimed to provide “a wealth of knowledge and experience along with honest and practical advice to ensure all clients clearly understand what is happening during the legal process”.
The firm said; “We work with many types of clients from all backgrounds and have a huge amount of experience in all of our sectors of law.”
Ward Legal’s answerphone message said simply that the “offices are now closed”. We have also tried to contact Mr March but have yet to receive a reply.
The SRA said in its decision notice that its adjudication panel was satisfied that grounds for intervention existed under schedule 1 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended), on the grounds that “there is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Mr March in connection with his practice at Ward Legal (UK) Limited and on the part of their employee Mantas Montvydas”.
The adjudication panel cited further grounds for intervention under schedule 1 of the Solicitors Act 1974 on the grounds that Mr March and Mr Rosenthall failed to comply with rules made by virtue of sections 31 and 32 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended) – which include rules on general professional conduct and the keeping of accounts.