The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has closed down the UK’s leading mental health practice, Blavo & Co, and named seven law firms to handle the outstanding case load.
The regulator said it had acted because there was “reason to suspect dishonesty” of the part of a manager or employee of Blavo & Co, as well as on the part of sole director John Blavo, and to protect clients’ interests.
Mr Blavo’s practising certificate has been automatically suspended as a result.
London-headquartered Blavo & Co has 18 offices across the UK and more than 200 staff operating in various areas of law. Last week it announced plans to restructure, with all staff put at risk of redundancy, and it also emerged that the Legal Aid Agency had terminated the firm’s legal aid contracts because of concerns over costs claims and reported it to the Metropolitan Police.
Also last week, accountants Armstrong Watson circulated a note seeking expressions of interest in buying an unnamed firm that appeared to be Blavo & Co. It said the firm had a turnover of £11.1m in the year to 31 March 2014, with after tax profit of £1.2m. Turnover for the three months to 30 June 2015 was £3.3m, with after-tax profit of £300,000. There were over 3,500 live case files, of which 85% were legally aided. It asked for indicative offers by 5pm on 12 October.
The SRA said the seven intervention agents – Devonshires, Lester Aldridge, Russell Cooke, Gordons, Blake Morgan, Shacklocks, and Stephensons – were needed because of the multiple offices. Their role is to assess all on-going matters and deal with those of greatest need first.