SRA shuts down Asons and tells staff transferred to another firm they can’t have their files

Asons: no longer the tenant of this building

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has closed down controversial Bolton law firm Asons shortly after it ceased trading and was sold to another practice, it emerged yesterday.

However, the regulator has made clear to Coops Law – the new name of alternative business structure (ABS) Banks Solicitors – that the staff who moved over from Asons cannot work on any of their old cases, all of which are now in the possession of the SRA.

The SRA also intervened in the practice of Kamran Akram, Asons’ principal and one of five brothers involved in the firm, which means his practising certificate is now suspended.

Both interventions were on the general ground that they were necessary to protect the interests of clients and former clients, so the actual cause is not clear.

While Asons has been in the news for a £300,000 grant from Bolton Council – which Mr Akram had to repay this week because the firm had closed – more serious was the revelation last month that it had agreed to repay more than £100,000 to insurer AXA after admitting to falsely and systematically inflating legal costs. The SRA said at the time that it was investigating this.

Banks Solicitors was licensed as an ABS last August, with non-solicitor Irfan Akram its head of finance and administration. Last Friday, it changed its registered office to that of Asons, and, on Tuesday this week, its name to Coops Law.

On Wednesday, Munir Majid, who was an assistant solicitor at Asons, became a director of Coops, alongside Irfan Akram and head of legal practice Hasib Khan.

All Asons staff were transferred over to Coops, which it hailed as a “fresh start”.

This week also saw the publication of Asons’ annual results, for the year to 31 May 2016, and, unusually, accounts for the following six months.

In 2015/16, the firm recorded a 15% fall in turnover to £11.6m, and a loss of £2.1m, compared to one of £893,000 the year before, as staff numbers tumbled from 263 to 199. Kamran Akmal was owed £2.27m from interest-free loans to the business. The accounts also showed that ‘failed cases costs provision’ nearly trebled to £1m.

However, the accounts for the six months to 30 November 2016 painted a different picture. Although turnover of £4.3m was down 25% pro rata on the previous year – perhaps unsurprising given that staff numbers had fallen to 134 – Asons achieved a profit of £808,000.

Mr Akmal’s loan had increased to £2.87m, although the accounts said that it was not repayable on demand and there was no fixed date for repayment. The ‘failed cases costs provision’ was reduced to £743,000.

These accounts also referred to the council grant and said the funds had to be applied to “qualifying development costs”.

They did not specify the particular use, but said the funds related to assets purchased “with expected useful economic life of five years”, meaning they were to be released across that period in line with financial reporting standards.

Just £10,000 was released to the profit and loss for the half-year period, with a further £60,000 due to be released in the following six months.

    Readers Comments

  • Jeff says:

    Asons were handling my case I got a call from them telling me that it will be taken over by coops. I have also then been given a letter to sign and confirm I am happy to work with them. But if the SRA says they aren’t allowed any of their previous clients what do I do???

  • Margaret foster says:

    I had a claim for hearing loss in 2014 not heard anything from them and have now just phoned checked on line and found there no longer operating hope my details have not been passed on I’m very annoyed I was not informed of this

  • Nigel Wheatley says:

    I also have a claim going on since 2015.
    I had a payment of under £100 last December and was told I would get the rest in January 2017.
    Now they have stopped trading, who do we all contact?

  • Debbie mansell says:

    My claim being going on for years i recently asked them to push it through,and they informed me the company i filed against has lost my files even though i was told they got all information. To hear nothing until i eecieved a letter saying i need a new solictor

  • paul says:

    My claim fell apart in 2014 I thought it was finished. Got a letter last week from the defendants solicitor demanding £6100 costs payable by the end of next week. Anyone got a paddle

  • Roy Dragon says:

    After several years I was told by phone in Dec 2015 I had lost my case.In Jun 2017 I received letter from defendants solicitors demanding £20k +£22.70 per day interest because Asons filed Notice of Discontinuance (without my knowledge) and so I was liable for costs.If I was liable Asons should have invoiced for their costs which they didn’t.6 months later they applied to claim costs against an insurance policy taken out in my name to protect me against such a claim which is void if Notice of Discontinuance is filed??? The only real help I have received so far is from the Legal Ombudsman who are investigating the case.

  • B Green says:

    I am owed £1500 for work done for Asons. How can i get reimbursement please?

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