Creditors owed money by former Bolton firm Asons Solicitors have made claims worth £26.5m, a liquidator’s report has revealed.
In an annual progress report published last week, it is confirmed the figure has leapt from the £3.2m listed as owed to creditors in a statement of affairs published in April 2017, weeks after the firm was shut down.
Due to uncertainty about the level of work still required on the liquidation, the report says it is difficult to estimate the timing or extent of any dividend to unsecured creditors, or when the process is likely to finish. The creditor list includes £1.4m owed to HM Revenue & Customs.
Liquidators also stated the Insolvency Service is conducting its own enquiries 'with a view to disqualification action'.
The SRA intervened in personal injury specialist Asons in March 2017, shortly after the business and asset had been sold for almost £230,000 to Coops Law Limited. The SRA subsequently intervened into Coops Law in June 2017.
Asons has ongoing claims against Coops arising out of the sale agreement, consisting of a claim for contractual breach for failure to pay the £99,400 run-off cover premium, and an undervalue in relation to the consideration paid by Coops. The liquidators said they are in negotiations with the relevant parties aiming to reach a settlement of these claims.
The report also stated that £50,000 has so far been paid to law firm Squire Patton Boggs for its legal advice on the insolvency. The original legal expenses estimate was £20,000 which has risen to £95,141 due to ‘significant additional work in respect of litigation, initial meetings of creditors, reviewing claims, seeking funding, negotiating with the SRA’.
Asons became one of the most high-profile firms in the personal injury sector before its closure, partly due to a controversial decision by Bolton Council to hand the Asons a £300,000 grant to help the firm refurbish new offices.
Since the intervention, the SRA has prosecuted solicitor Munir Majid for breaching confidentiality by allowing around 6,000 client files to be transferred from Asons to Coops, along with funds belonging to Asons clients. Majid was suspended for six months earlier this year and ordered to pay almost £18,000 in costs.