A west London firm has assured clients it is not shutting down despite an SRA notice seeming to suggest it was. The regulator published a decision notice last week stating that Lancasters, based in Chiswick, had been fined for breaches of its transparency rules and ‘is currently in the process of closing’.
The regulated entity trading as Lancasters was indeed fined last July and has closed, but Lancasters Solicitors (Chiswick) Limited has taken over the business from the same address as a limited company – trading under the name Lancasters Solicitors – and has no plans to close. The misleading notice was posted last Thursday and was still there on Monday morning with the wording unchanged.
Meanwhile the owners of Lancasters Solicitors have spent the past few days taking calls from concerned clients. They have contacted the SRA asking for the reference to ‘in the process of closing down’ to be deleted, but it is understood this requires an adjudicator’s decision and cannot be done immediately.
The main issue appears to be the length of time it took to post details of the decision. The notice states that the decision to fine Lancasters £2,000 was made on 23 July last year – almost 10 months before it was published. According to Companies House records, Anthony Lancaster ceased to be in control of the business in March this year, although he continues to act as a consultant to the new firm.
The SRA has already sanctioned nine firms for breaches of its website transparency rules over the past two-and-a-half years. Those decisions were announced in January but again had been made the previous summer. The SRA says publication can be delayed if the firm involved asks for a review of the decision.
The decision notice relating to Lancasters states the firm failed to publish mandatory details about costs, its complaints procedure and to display the SRA’s digital badge on its website. It was ordered to pay £2,000 and £300 costs.
Lancaster Solicitors displays its prices, complaints procedure and the SRA badge prominently on its website.
* None of the firms mentioned in this article have any link to Lancasters Solicitors in Pontypridd.