A large conveyancing solicitors group trading under five different names and with 16 offices has been closed down by the Solicitors Regulations Authority (SRA).
The practice involved is run by Simon Hutcheson, Simon Peacock and Champika Ratnayake as Kingly Solicitors Limited, which as a group employs over 180 people.
The trading names involved are Richard Herne & Co in Bristol, Hancock Quins in Watford, Austin Ray in Milton Keynes, Ray Nixon Brown (which has nine offices across Yorkshire and County Durham) and Giffen, Couch & Archer in Leighton Buzzard.
An SRA spokesperson would only say that breaches of a serious nature had led the authority to close down all of Kingly Solicitors’ operations. This includes a failure by Hutcheson, Peacock and Ratnayake to comply with SRA rules, and a reason to suspect dishonesty on behalf of Nural Miah, who is a manager at Kingly Solicitors.
The practising certificates of all three have been automatically suspended.
The closure by the SRA of a company is a serious sanction; it cannot trade, all its documents and papers taken away and all its money and client funds seized.
Two of its local agents will step in if house sales handled by the company are at crucial stages, or recommend vendors and buyers find new solicitors if they are earlier stages of the conveyancing process.
These agents are James Dunn of Devonshires Solicitors and John Owen of Gordons.
“The SRA will now investigate further the issues raised that have led to this intervention to see if any additional action is necessary. At this stage of the SRA’s work, no further details can be disclosed,” a statement says.