SRA shuts down 16-office law firm consolidator

Richard Herne & Co: One of Kingly’s trading names

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has today shut down a 16-office law firm consolidator with 180 staff across the country.

It is highly unusual for the regulator to intervene in such a large practice.

In a notice, it said Kingly Solicitors, which has been an alternative business structure since 2017, has not complied with one or more of the terms of its licence.

Further, there was “reason to suspect dishonesty” by Nurul Miah as a manager of the firm. According to Companies House, Nurul Miah – who is not a regulated lawyer – resigned as a director in May 2019.

The SRA has also intervened in the practices of the three directors, Simon Hutcheson, Simon Peacock and Champika Ratnayake.

Kingly Solicitors, which changed its name last year from RH Legal, covers a wide range of private client and business areas of practice.

It trades under several different names around the country: Richard Herne & Co, Hancock Quins, Austin Ray, Ray Nixon Brown, Beesons, Coles, Hughmans, and Giffen Couch & Archer.

On its website, Kingly says that “since 2016 RH Legal (Bristol) Ltd has been acquiring proactive, agile and successful law firms across the UK”.

It added: “With over 14 locations as part of their portfolio, RH Legal (Bristol) Ltd rebranded to become Kingly Solicitors in September 2019 and are confident that their portfolio of locations and services will continue to grow in the forthcoming months.”

The most recent acquisition was London criminal law firm Hughmans, which joined Kingly this year.

Headquartered in London, Kingly also has offices in Beverley, two in Bristol, Harrogate, Leighton Buzzard, Market Weighton, Menai Bridge, Milton Keynes, Northallerton, Redcar, Ripon, Settle, Stockton on Tees, Watford and York.

The most recent accounts filed with Companies House are for the year ending 31 March 2019, and are abbreviated ‘micro-entity’ accounts that only feature a balance sheet.

Most of the acquisitions the firm made were last year and so were presumably too late to push its turnover up to the level where fuller accounts have to be filed.

The accounts were approved by the board on 19 March 2020 and signed on its behalf by ‘N Miah’ as director.

The only comparable intervention by the SRA in recent years was that of Blavo & Co, which had 18 offices when it was closed down in 2015.

Though that required seven different law firms as intervention agents to assist the regulator with the process, the SRA is only using two for Kingly: Devonshires and Gordons.

    Readers Comments

  • john martin says:

    Sounds like the Brandon Group all over again . 20 years on. Does nobody learn?

  • Lorraine says:

    Whilst I am not in possession of all the facts, and there are always 2 sides to every story, it is shocking this has happened.
    How can clients have confidence in Solicitors now? There is no transparency. Most clients had no idea the trusted company they and their parents dealt with for years had been bought out (and presumably financially controlled by Kingly.) The companies should have been rebranded.
    Giffen Couch & Archer ran an excellent practise in Leighton Buzzard staffed by a team of highly professional Solicitors and administrators who have overnight lost their jobs. Most will soon be taken on by another solicitor in the town as they could not cope with the work of 2 extra practises.
    Meanwhile clients are left in limbo trying to complete even more stressful house transactions thanks to Kingly, and others filling in forms to retrieve documents they need to deal with Executor duties or their own Wills and House Deeds. Who knows how long this take. Kingly should hang their heads in shame and those found guilty of malpractice barred for life.

  • emanuel says:

    Over the last few months this organisation has cost me a lot of unecessary expense, stress and anxiety. I will happily sit back and watch this company and all those responsible go down the pan.

  • Doug Trotman says:

    So were are my house deeds now. Richard Herne’s place in Staple Hill Bristol is being gutted by Indians (working at 9pm this evening-Saturday) and is to be Indian Restaurant/takeaway.
    Can anyone advise

  • Paul says:

    Where will the family Will, written and kept by Richard Ahernes office in Staple Hill, Bristol, be stored now?

  • Paul says:

    Hi Doug
    Did you get anywhere, tracking down your documents held by Herne Solicitors in Staple Hill?
    Looking forward to hearing how you got on, as I have a similar challenge.

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