The Solicitors Regulation Authority has insisted a £124,436 fine imposed on a claims firm was ‘substantial’ – despite amounting to just 1% of annual turnover at the business.
SRA-licensed alternative business structure FindMyClaims.com Ltd sent six million letters in 10 months to members of the public, with statements on the envelope such as ‘Important information enclosed’. The letters made misleading statements and the Hertfordshire firm admitted failing to carry out proper checks on clients and not having systems in place to weed out misleading statements appearing in claims bundles.
The PPI specialist, which settled almost 18,000 claims and recovered £42.6m in the period in question, said it has since upgraded its IT system and amended marketing letters.
The SRA has the power to fine alternative business structures up to £250m. It pointed out this was a record penalty but sought to explain why the fine – agreed with the firm – was not higher.
‘It reflects the millions of letters with misleading information that were sent out across the UK and that this was no isolated incident,’ an SRA spokesperson said. ‘However, after the misconduct was discovered, the firm cooperated fully with us and has changed its processes accordingly to make sure this does not happen again.’
A FindMyClaims spokesperson said: ‘We are grateful to the SRA for highlighting its concerns and for helping us improve our consumer communications. We now understand why our original communications were misleading in parts, but it is important to emphasise that no consumers were ever financially disadvantaged as a result.’