A total of four businesses covering several firms linked to the crisis-hit Metamorph Group have today been intervened in by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

In an email sent to employees yesterday by Metamorph management, staff were advised that the regulator was planning to step in to handle the affairs of MLL Limited, BPL Solicitors Limited, Beaumont ABS Limited and Atray Limited.

MLL Limited also trades under the names Terry Jones Solicitors, Linder Myers Solicitors, Donnelley & Elliott Solicitors, SLC Solicitors, Verisona Law, Beaumont Solicitors and RJW Legal.

The four entities have effectively closed in recent weeks, with their bank accounts frozen. The SRA’s intervention is to protect client interests. 

On Wednesday morning, the SRA confirmed it had intervened into the four firms, all owned by Metamorph Group Ltd. The interventions will stop them from operating and will mean the SRA takes possession of all documents and papers held by the firms, together with all money held by them (including client money). The regulator is not responsible for employees or trade creditors of firms that it has intervened in.

Intervention agents from the SRA will visit various offices that have relevant papers and records. The branches set to be intervened in are Shrewsbury, Telford, Lytham, Chester, York, Gosport, Waterlooville and Wakefield, Leicester, Pontefract, Exmouth and Sale.

The SRA has appointed an agent, John Owen of Gordons LLP, to deal with all matters currently held by these firms. The agent will assess all ongoing matters and deal with those of greatest need first. The SRA’s archive team will take control of all documents held by the firm. 

In a statement, the regulator said: 'The SRA will now investigate further the issues raised that have led to this intervention to see if any additional action is necessary. At this stage of the SRA’s work, no further details can be disclosed.

'It is only if further action becomes necessary that any information is released into the public domain. There is no timescale for how long this work will take.'

A court order was made yesterday to wind up MLL Limited, according to documents filed with Companies House. Beaumont ABS is already in liquidation. 

The intervention will not apply to any of the other Metamorph subsidiaries, including Parrott & Coales, Beeton Edwards, Browns, Knight Polson and the Bedfordshire firm Knowles Benning, which has taken on many of the former MLL and BPL files and staff.

The all-staff email yesterday suggested that urgent matters contingent on blocked client funds may qualify for an emergency grant from the compensation fund.

The email added: ‘This is a complex process, not least for the SRA and their agents, involving a multi-office and entity intervention, alongside other regulated entities still working within those offices.’

The SRA has come under pressure to intervene since it emerged that staff have not been paid and various back-office employees have left, leaving a threadbare workforce in HR, payroll and IT departments.

But the regulator’s statutory remit is to protect client interests rather than law firm employees, meaning it has not necessarily been in a position to intervene until now.

Intervention could prove to be an expensive process. It would be one of the largest the SRA has handled since its creation. As a point of comparison, the regulator spent nearly £800,000 intervening in legal aid firm Blavo & Co, which had 18 offices, in 2015.


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