An employment tribunal has awarded a total of just over £37,000 in compensation to five solicitors, an apprentice solicitor and a legal assistant who brought claims against collapsed law firm network Kingly Solicitors Limited.
The national firm, which acquired a number of High Street practices across the country since 2016, was effectively closed by a Solicitors Regulation Authority intervention in August. The business was placed into voluntary liquidation at the end of September.
Yesterday the tribunal published separate judgments for eight claims brought against Kingly Solicitors Ltd t/a Coles Solicitors (in voluntary liquidation) that were heard together before Employment Tribunal Judge Newburn on 1 February and decided on 1 March.
The judgments state that the company was subject to an SRA intervention on 12 August, resulting in an immediate shutdown of all the respondent’s offices. ‘There was no warning, consultation, or notice of redundancy given to the claimant, as the offices were immediately closed on 12 August 2020,’ the judge said.
Judge Newburn was unable to decide one of the cases as the claimant had not responded to any correspondence from the lead claimant and had not submitted any evidence to the tribunal.
Claims in six cases included breach of contract in relation to notice and holiday pay, and unfair dismissal. Although the judge said claims for unfair dismissal were well founded, no compensatory award was due. The judge said the claimants received statutory redundancy payment. ‘If the respondent had followed a fair redundancy procedure, the claimant would still have been dismissed by reason of redundancy on 12 August 2020, as this was the date that the respondent’s offices were all immediately closed further to an intervention by the SRA,’ the judge added.
One solicitor was awarded £19,083 after succeeding in claims for notice and holiday pay, expenses and his contractual bonus. The judgment for his claims states that he had not worked for the company for over two continuous years and obtained a job at a supermarket last autumn, working between 30 to 40 hours a week, earning £9.18 per hour.