The Legal Services Board (LSB) today announced an independent review of the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s regulatory actions in the lead-up to last year’s collapse of Sheffield firm SSB Group. The LSB will add this review to the scope of its current review into regulatory events prior to the SRA’s intervention into Axiom Ince.  

SRA sign inside The Cube

Source: Jonathan Goldberg

The additional terms of reference will be published shortly. It remains the aim to report on Axiom Ince this spring, with the review in relation to SSB Group and overall learning and conclusions being reported in the summer.

Given the considerable consumer detriment, the board believes that it is important to understand the regulatory events in relation to both firms. Learning from these cases will be vital for public and professional confidence.

The LSB will continue to partner with the law firm Carson McDowell to carry out the reviews.

SSB collapsed into administration in January owing £205m. Much of that was accounted for through loan agreements with litigation funders, but there is also a string of legal businesses owed money by SSB and now unlikely to receive a penny. 

In a Westminster Hall debate last month, MPs outlined the misery and anger of constituents who signed up for cavity wall claims with SSB and now live with the threat of costs orders being enforced against them. Bradford East MP Imran Hussain has called on the government to intervene to cover clients’ losses.

Law Society chief executive Ian Jeffery said: 'We welcomed the LSB carrying out an independent review of the events leading to the collapse of Axiom Ince and the SRA’s intervention to close the firm. We similarly welcome this independent review of regulatory actions in the lead-up to the collapse of SSB Group, which also raises concerns about the timely detection of and protection against consumer detriment.

'As the oversight body responsible for assessing and monitoring effective and transparent regulatory performance, the LSB has the necessary investigation and enforcement powers to ensure that the events and regulatory actions relating to such serious incidents are fully brought to light.

'We stand ready to work with the LSB and, as appropriate, the SRA to ensure that all proper assurance is provided to the public and to our members.'


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