Exceptional result for Jeremy Barnett in the largest ARP case at the SDT.
The SDT recently heard a case involving the largest ARP and run off cover in which there had been a default on record. No payments had been made towards the total due of approximately £2m following the Administration of Sheffield firm, AMS Law.
The case of Williams, Williams, Carter and Kennedy was heard before the SDT on 2nd July 2011. In a number of earlier cases involving failure to pay much smaller sums of ARP and run off cover, severe sanctions had been imposed in the majority of cases.
The decision follows recent guidance that was issued by the SRA indicating (after the event) that any failure to pay an ARP premium would be viewed as very serious misconduct.
The case has been recently reported in the Law Society Gazette dated Thursday 27th September.
Jeremy represented all four solicitors, instructed by Ian Coupland of BCP International Law Firm, 107-111 Fleet Street, London, EC4A 2AB who were described by the tribunal as honest and decent solicitors who had attempted to act with integrity and in the best interests of their clients.
Although there were a number of aggravating features, the Tribunal accepted a number of exceptional mitigating features, and described the ARP scheme as ‘rather a blunt instrument as the assessment was based on turnover rather than a calculation of the potential value of the liability to the scheme. Here, steps had been taken to reduce the liability of the scheme by prior notification of a number of pre-existing PI claims.
The mitigating features included;
- The Respondents were four unfortunate and innocent parties in the administration of a substantial law firm,
- They had acted with integrity in assisting the Bank in the administration for no personal gain.
- They had been placed in an unfortunate position by the action of former partners who had avoided personal liability
- The firm had been effectively managed by the Bank and its onsite representatives who had indicated that expenses would be met
An interesting point that was accepted by the tribunal was that the Respondents did not themselves sign the application form for the ARP that contained the warnings about the consequences of non-payment.