The Solicitors Regulation Authority has revealed that 117 firms are still to find insurance and have less than six working days to save themselves from closure.
The regulator has finalised its efforts to identify firms that failed to secure professional indemnity cover and are in the extended policy period (EPP).
As of 16 December, 117 firms required cover. Those firms have to find cover or properly close their practice by 29 December – the end of the 90-day EPP.
Of the 117, 17 had failed to comply with SRA rules to notify the regulator of their insurance arrangements. Disciplinary action will be considered at a later date.
The SRA has sent 108 compliance plans to firms. Of these, 94 have been signed and returned by managers. Those that delayed returning their plans will also face disciplinary action.
Mike Haley, SRA director of supervision, said: ‘Some firms are better than others when it comes to addressing all the issues associated with an orderly wind-down, for example ensuring archived files are stored properly. We continue to work with firms to remind them of their responsibilities and the approaching deadline for closure.
‘All of these firms are aware that they should not be carrying out any work on behalf of clients beyond 29 December as they would be doing so without insurance, so all live client matters and client monies must be dealt with by that date.’
Haley added that firms that continue to practise after 29 December or fail to wind down in an orderly fashion will be subject to ‘swift regulatory action’. Exercising powers of intervention may be considered where it is necessary and appropriate in the public interest.
One firm that has confirmed it will close by the end of the year is full-service practice Hilliers HRW, based in Stevenage.
In a notice on its website, the firm confirmed that administrators from FRP Advisory were appointed on 9 December. Eight staff members have already found work at other firms.
Prior to the appointment of administrators, the partners and staff at Hilliers HRW had transferred all existing client work in progress to a range of other local firms of practising solicitors. The firm employed 34 staff including eight fee-earners and support staff. Seven staff members have been retained during the initial administration process.
Tony Wright, partner at FRP Advisory and joint administrator to Hilliers HRW LLP, said: 'We confirm that on 9 December Hilliers HRW LLP, the law firm, appointed administrators to manage its ongoing business and affairs in the interest of creditors and in compliance with requirements as set out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
'The decision to place the practice into administration was necessary due to the firm's inability to secure professional indemnity insurance cover.'