A law firm that was accused of ’serious misconduct’ by bringing private prosecutions that a judge said were without merit is to close down. 

Widnes-based Parry & Welch Solicitors has filed notice that it will go into administration, and will shortly appoint Leonard Curtis to wind it up.

An email giving notice that the practice was to close was sent out two weeks after the firm failed in its attempt to get an animal rights charity closed down in order to recover allegedly unpaid fees for private prosecutions. Judge Clive Jones dismissed a petition to wind up Animal Protection Services (APS) made by Parry & Welch and awarded interim indemnity costs of £22,000 against the firm.

It followed a dispute between the charity and the law firm in the wake of a judgment at Manchester Crown Court, criticising both organisations for private prosecutions brought against puppy breeders.

Last November, the honorary recorder of Manchester, Judge Nicholas Dean QC, said that the prosecutions brought by APS and Parry & Welch were an abuse of the courts process. He said the two organisations may have been engaged in ‘systemic fraud’ and ‘perverting the course of justice’ by bringing and pursuing prosecutions ‘with no evidential basis’ and ‘for wholly improper reasons and purposes’.

Both denied any wrongdoing. APS said it would review its investigative processes and co-operate fully with any regulatory investigations.

Parry & Welch was set up by James Parry, a well-known Merseyside solicitor and higher court advocate and solicitor Kate Welch, in 2009. Parry is a former chairman of the Law Society’s criminal law committee, who in 2013 launched a successful vote of no confidence in the Society’s chief executive over Chancery Lane’s handling of the campaign against legal aid cuts. 

The latest information filed with Companies House shows that in 2020 Parry & Welch had assets (less current liabilities) of £43,382 and had net liabilities of £37,335. It had debts due to its two members, Parry and Welch, of £101,040. According to Companies House, in 2010, the firm granted National Westminster Bank a debenture, which makes the bank a secured creditor, which means it is unlikely that unsecured creditors will receive anything from the administration.

Parry & Welch is the third northwest England law firm to go into administration in the past two months, following the demise of Pure Legal and Hampson Hughes.