The Solicitors Regulation Authority has warned potential clients that a commercial online directory of solicitor practices contains ‘a number’ of fraudulent firms.
In an announcement on its website today, the regulator said it had received information that the names appeared on a list of firms in Dorset, www.solicitors-barristers.co.uk/dorset/poole.
The announcement says the names of former partners and members of staff at Trevanions, a bona fide law firm which merged with the firm Humphries Kirk LLP of Wareham, Dorset, are being used in connection with the fraudulent firms.
The SRA said any business or transactions through A M Marrow Solicitors, C J Brown Solicitors, H Durant Solicitors, J Patchett Solicitors, M Baker Solicitors and M E Marrow Solicitors are not undertaken by a solicitor’s practice or an individual authorised or regulated by the SRA.
According to the SRA, the contact details for the firms are shown on the website as 15 Church Road, Poole, Dorset, BH14 8UF, with the telephone and fax number 01202 715815. Humphries Kirk LLP has a branch office at that address.
‘None of the fraudulent firms listed above are connected to the genuine firm of Humphries Kirk LLP,’ added the announcement.
‘Genuine solicitors authorised and regulated by the SRA may have had their identities used without their knowledge or authority in connection with these fraudulent firms.’
Rob Hailstone, founder of the solicitor firm network the Bold Group, said he had contacted his members to warn them of a potential problem.
Hailstone told the Gazette his own investigations had found the directory, Solicitors-barristers.co.uk, includes reputable and active firms but also gives details for firms which have moved, closed or partners have left or died.
He added: ‘Bold Group member firms are taking two different approaches, some are writing to the owners, insisting that the information relating to their firms should be removed. Others are leaving matters alone for fear of the owners pestering them to provide them with correct and up to date information.
‘Personally, I would be taking the former course of action.’
The chief executive of the website's owner, CliqTo Ltd, said: 'As an immediate response to the inaccurate listings, the solicitors that were named in the report were instantly removed from the website. In addition, we will be placing messages on the website to let any visitors know that listings shown may be inaccurate.'