Personal injury solicitor suspended
A personal injury solicitor has admitted paying unlawful referral fees for claims and running cases which clients had not authorised. Andrew Clinch dealt with numerous personal injury claims where purported victims of road traffic accidents had either not signed the relevant forms or expressly said they did not wish to pursue compensation.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal was told of a string of complaints made by members of the public alleging they had been cold called and some saying they were charged for legal fees that were never incurred.
In one case, Clinch Solicitors had started a woman’s claim, only to be told by the medical agency set to diagnose her injuries that she had opted to stop the action. But within weeks of that decision, the firm had received a letter from insurers admitting liability and offering to settle for £1,000. Clinch Solicitors accepted the settlement without the client signing the correct forms and simply informed her that she stood to receive £538, after deductions for costs and after-the-event insurance.
The tribunal heard that the firm had written to clients – at least one of them elderly – demanding money for legal fees not incurred and had threatened legal action if it was not paid.
The tribunal ordered Clinch to be suspended for two and a half years and for him to pay £50,000 costs.
(Source – Law Society Gazette)