A personal injury firm pursued through the courts to release client files in bills challenges has appointed administrators, it has emerged. A notice posted in London Gazette has confirmed that Southport firm JC & A Solicitors Limited has been placed in the hands of Manchester insolvency practice Leonard Curtis.
The firm’s website has been closed and the firm has not responded to the Gazette’s request for comment.
According to the most recent accounts, published in February and covering the 2016/17 financial year, the firm had 133 fee earners and administrative staff in April 2017.
Turnover in 2016/17 fell by 19% to £11.15m and the firm went from posting a £661,643 profit in 2016 to a £621,851 loss in 2017.
As well as pressures faced by all personal injury firms, JC & A had been brought to the courts by former clients who wanted to query historic bills, with the claimants represented by a new breed of firms dedicated to recovering legal costs.
In Hanley v JC & A Solicitors a year ago, Master James said the courts were seeing an increasing number of former clients making such applications, usually stemming from firms deducting the maximum 25% of damages recovered under a conditional fee agreement.
Master James had refused the former client of JC & A access to their files and said she was concerned by the ‘floodgates that would likely be opened’ by ordering solicitors to hand over their complete file.
But in February, Master Brown granted in Swain v J C & A Ltd an order for delivery of documents in the possession of the firm, allowing the former client the chance to contest costs.
JC & A said the application for disclosure was ‘merely a fishing expedition’ and that it had the right to make deductions from the claimant’s damages having complied with CFA regulations.