A personal injury firm has entered administration two months after it was referred to the Solicitors Regulation Authority over its conduct in a failed group claim.
First Stop Legal Services Ltd, trading as GT Law, has announced that joint administrators were appointed last week.
The reason for the closure of the firm is still unclear. GT Law operated from offices in Liverpool and Manchester and as of February 2014 employed 113 staff.
It was regarded as one of the biggest claimant personal injury firms in the north-west and two years ago increased headcount by 60 and moved into new premises in Liverpool city centre.
The firm was referred to the SRA in August by Mr Justice Jay following the High Court's dismissal of 20 test cases involving people living near the Sonae chipboard-plant fire in Kirkby, Merseyside in 2011.
Patrick White, a non-solicitor working under the direction of his principals, denied that he was treating one claimant as a ‘cash cow’ and denied cold-calling the claimant.
But the judge noted ‘obvious errors and inconsistencies’ in the signed statements of truth and said he was not satisfied they were the clients’.
A notice on the GT Law website confirms that the firm entered administration on 9 October and that Quantuma has been appointed as administrator.
The notice says: ‘Client files have been transferred and the acquiring firms are in the process of securing informed client consent. Clients will be contacted directly by those law firms over the next few days.’
Samantha Palmer, of national firm Ashfords, has been appointed to provide regulatory support.
She confirmed the Sonae fire cases have been transferred to Cheshire firm IC Law, along with its advisers, to ensure continuity for clients.
According to financial accounts for the 2013/14 year ending 28 February 2014, posted on the Companies House website, GT Law increased turnover in the year from £7.45m to £7.94m. Profit before tax, however, fell from £255,000 to £179,000.
Director Gordon Tucker noted in the introduction to the accounts that the company had a ‘large portfolio of personal injury claims which are expected to generate significant income’ over the next few years.
Debts falling within one year, as of February 2014, were up year-on-year from £2.8m to £4.1m. Companies House records also confirm the firm took out a facility agreement for an unspecified amount with Guernsey financier HTG Ventures in February this year.