A law firm director, who strung along clients for months while failing to progress their cases, has been rebuked by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Simon Oldfield is not a solicitor but was formerly responsible for conducting civil claims for Lancashire firm Oldfields Solicitors. He admitted to misleading 11 clients as to the correct position of their files, according to a regulatory settlement.
The issue came to light after a client complained to the firm, prompting a review of Oldfield’s files. He left his role as a fee earner in April 2018 (although he remains a director) and the firm has compensated each of the affected clients and apologised for his conduct.
A regulatory settlement agreement published last week by the SRA highlighted two matters in particular that exemplified Oldfield’s conduct. In one, he believed a claim for defective building work had been issued in December 2015 and continued to insist through 2016 that the claim was progressing. In fact, the court had never received the claim and it had not progressed at all: the true position came out only in January 2017 when the client requested copies of the relevant papers.
Oldfield was made subject to a section 43 order, preventing him from working for a regulated entity, after the SRA deemed his conduct to be dishonest and demonstrating he could not be relied upon to deal with clients openly and to act in their best interest. A public rebuke was found to be appropriate in the interests of transparency, but a fine was not imposed due to Oldfield’s financial position.
In mitigation, taken into account by the SRA, Oldfield said he was experiencing mental health issues and difficult personal circumstances over much of the period during which the misconduct occurred.