A firm shut down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority could face legal action from a client who was unable to file an unfair dismissal claim due to being badly advised.
According to an Employment Appeal Tribunal judgment, Blavo & Co should have told the former caretaker of a primary school there was a deadline for submitting his claim.
The firm told the claimant, named as Mr B Davies, to seek advice ‘elsewhere’ just weeks before it was closed down by the SRA but did not inform him of the deadline.
Handing down the judgment, His Honour Judge Shanks said there ‘can really be no argument’ that the claimant ought to have been advised of the urgent need to present a claim and that had he been advised, the claim could have been presented.
Davies was the former caretaker of Sheredes School in Hertfordshire.
He was employed from 1 January 2003 until 12 June 2015.
When he was dismissed Davies, his wife and children were also given notice to vacate the home provided to them by the school.
Davies instructed the firm in July 2015. Although Davies’ wife chased Blavo & Co for further information throughout September and early October 2015 it was not until 8 October 2015 that she managed to speak to one of its solicitors on the phone.
According to the judgment, the firm told her ‘it would be better if [they] went elsewhere’.
The SRA subsequently shut down the firm on 14 October, preventing it from taking any action or communicating with clients. Last month, the Metropolitan Police told the Gazette that an investigation into Blavo & Co continues.
Shanks said the failure to present the claim arose from ‘the fault of [the] solicitors’ and had not come from the SRA’s intervention.
He added: ‘I appreciate that this outcome is likely to be very disappointing, if not baffling.
‘The only consolation I can offer is that they may well (though it must be emphasised that the solicitors have not had an opportunity to be heard by a court at this stage) have a claim against Blavo & Co in respect of the loss of an opportunity to bring a claim… which ought, as I understand it, to be covered by insurance.’