McClure Solicitors: Insolvency

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 18 January 2024.

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Photo of Carol Monaghan Carol Monaghan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Education), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Science, Innovation and Technology)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will take steps with Cabinet colleagues to (a) support clients of McClure Solicitors and (b) ensure former clients are aware of the firm’s collapse and the potential consequences for their legal arrangements.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The legal profession in England and Wales operates independently of government. The responsibility for regulating the sector sits with the approved regulators, overseen by the Legal Services Board (LSB). The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is responsible for regulating the professional conduct of solicitors, as well as most law firms in England and Wales. The SRA’s role involves protecting clients and the public. The different ways in which they can provide support to consumers of legal services can be found on their website: SRA | What you can expect from us | Solicitors Regulation Authority.

For clients based in Scotland, the Law Society of Scotland (TLSS) is the professional body responsible for regulating Scottish solicitors. They have confirmed that they are taking measures to meet their regulatory obligations and assist consumers impacted by the collapse of WW & J McClures. Advice for those affected by the collapse of McClures can be accessed on TLSS’s website: https://www.lawscot.org.uk/news-and-events/law-society-news/mcclures-jones-whyte-faqs/.

The Government is aware of the issues surrounding WW & J McClures collapse, which involve multiple regulators responding to former clients across Scotland, England and Wales. Government officials have spoken to the SRA, which has confirmed that it is aware of the issues at hand and is continuing to investigate them at a senior level. There are several routes in place to ensure consumers have access to support in the event of the collapse of their solicitor’s law firm.

The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) deals with service complaints against regulated legal services providers – including those who are no longer operational. Their website provides information with regards to the different routes available for consumers depending on their personal circumstances: Complaining about closed service providers | Legal Ombudsman.

With regards to the issue of raising awareness among clients of McClures, there are requirements with respect to the advertising and publication of an insolvency so that creditors and other interested parties are made aware. The administration of McClures was advertised as required in the London Gazette. Information for former clients of McClures in Scotland was also published by Law Society of Scotland. In addition, for clients of McClures across Great Britain, Jones Whyte published an extensive list of FAQs, covering the number of clients it had taken on, the steps it was taking to contact those clients, and the procedure for clients to transfer to another legal firm if they wished.

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