2 reviews (1/5) and information for Stephensons Solicitors LLP, Wigan
How to find us
Wigan Investment Centre, Waterside Drive, Wigan, Greater Manchester, WN3 5BA
- 24-34 Lord Street, Leigh
- 26 Union Street, Leigh
- 95-101 Corporation Street, St. Helens
- First Floor, Sefton House, Northgate Close, Horwich, Bolton
- The Gateway, 85 - 101 Sankey Street, Warrington
- Unit 3, Brewery Yard, Deva City Office Park, Trinity Way, Salford
- Warnford Court, 29 Throgmorton Street, London
Facilities Office has disabled access,Office accepts Legal Aid
Languages spoken Cantonese, English, French, Spanish
Size of firm 51 solicitors
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Legal services at this branch
- Administrative and public law
- Clinical negligence
- Commercial litigation
- Commercial property
- Company and commercial
- Conveyancing - residential
- Corporate finance
- Crime - fraud
- Crime - general
- Debt and bankruptcy - personal
- Debt recovery
- European Community law
- Family - general
- Human rights
- Insolvency and restructuring - business
- Landlord and tenant - residential
- Licensing gaming and betting
- Litigation - general
- Neighbour disputes
- Personal injury
- Private client - Probate
- Private client - trusts
- Private client - Wills
- Professional negligence
06/03/20 - Reviewed by Anonymous
Would never recommend this Firm to anybody. Useless. Don’t seem to be interested in fighting your corner. Rubbish
Compiled from data from the Solicitors Regulation Authority website
Outcome: Regulatory settlement agreement
This outcome was reached by SRA decision.
1.1. Claire Louise Booth, a solicitor employed by Brown Turner Ross Limited (BTR) agrees to the following outcome to the investigation of her conduct by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA):
(a) she is rebuked
(b) she is fined ?2,000
(c) to the publication of this agreement
(d) she will pay the costs of the investigation of ?300
Summary of Facts
2.1. In 2012 Goldstar Law Limited (Goldstar), a company not regulated by the SRA, started to approach elderly people to sell them Estate Preservation Trusts (EPTs). Goldstar asserted to its customers that the EPT would prevent or ring-fence their properties and savings from being sold or used to fund future care costs.
2.2. Goldstar required its customers to pay an up-front fee of ?1,995 and referred them to BTR to prepare the EPT.
2.3. BTR's private client department prepared the EPTs for Goldstar's customers. Mr Arthur Finlay was head of that department. Mr Finlay supervised the work of Ms Booth who was an assistant solicitor.
2.4. Over a 12 month period BTR prepared about 116 EPTs for Goldstar's customers. Ms Booth had conduct of approximately one third of these.
2.5. Under the EPT, assets held by the Goldstar's customers, such as their home, were transferred into a trust held by trustees on behalf of themselves and others as beneficiaries of the trust. The effect of the EPT was that the Goldstar customer would no longer own the asset in his/her name. Instead, the asset would be held by the Goldstar customer as a trustee, jointly with another trustee, who was usually a family member.
2.6. BTR corresponded with Goldstar?s customers about the EPT using standard letters that did not adequately explain for whom BTR were acting or provide clarity for those customers about what they ought to do should they want legal advice about entering the EPT. Goldstar provided BTR with pro-forma documents containing information about their customers for her to prepare EPT documents for Goldstar's customers in accordance with precedents obtained by BTR from counsel. BTR then sent the EPT to the customer for execution and undertook the work necessary to register the transfer of the property to the trustees with HM Land Registry.
2.7. The SRA identified that Ms Booth:
a) did not make customers aware that it only acted for Goldstar
b) did not recommend that customers sought independent legal advice before entering into the EPT
c) did not advise customers about the legal implications of the EPT
d) did not ascertain whether customers understood the documentation, and
e) did not assess whether the EPT was appropriate for the individual circumstances of each individual customer.
2.8. About 67 Goldstar customers returned their signed EPTs to BTR.
2.9. Neither BTR nor Ms Booth considered Goldstar customers to be their clients. However, Ms Booth should have ensured that:
(a) she advised customers that she was acting for Goldstar only and not for them; and
(b) she informed customers that she was not providing legal advice about the EPT and whether it was suitable for their circumstances.
3.1. Ms Booth makes the following admission which the SRA accepts that:
She acted in breach of Principle 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 by:
(a) Failing to advise Goldstar customers that she acted for Goldstar only and not them;
(b) Failing to inform Goldstar customers that she was not providing legal advice to them about the EPT and whether it was suitable for their circumstances; and
(c) Failing to recommend that Goldstar customers seek independent legal advice on the EPT and its implications.
Accordingly, she failed to behave in a way that maintains the trust in her as a solicitor and in the provision of legal services.
Why the agreed outcome is appropriate
Rebuke and Fine
4.1. The SRA considers that a rebuke and a fine are appropriate because the conditions in rule 3.1 of the SRA Disciplinary Rules 2011 are met, in that:
(a) the conduct caused or had the potential to cause loss or significant inconvenience to other persons and affected or had the potential to affect vulnerable people;
(b) the agreed outcome is a proportionate outcome in the public interest; and
(c) the conduct was neither trivial nor justifiably inadvertent.
4.2. In deciding that a rebuke and a fine are proportionate, the SRA has taken into account the admissions made by Ms Booth and the following mitigation which she has put forward:
(a) At the relevant time she was a new employee at BTR and conducted the work under the supervision of Mr Finlay and at the direction of the firm's directors
(b) She was comforted by the fact that BTR's directors appeared to have considered Goldstar's paperwork and scheme in detail
(c) She was comforted by the fact that counsel had been instructed to prepare some EPT documents and cover letters that she used as a precedent
(d) She recalls advising some of the Goldstar customers verbally that she acted for Goldstar and not them, but did not do so in writing, and
(e) She raised concerns with BTR's directors about the fact that the EPT documents were sent out directly to Goldstar's customers and not for Goldstar to dispatch.
4.3. The amount of the fine takes into account all relevant circumstances, including those set out in Appendix 1 to the SRA Disciplinary Procedure Rules 2011.
4.4. The SRA considers it appropriate that this agreement is published in the interests of transparency in the regulatory and disciplinary process.
Acting in a way which is inconsistent with this Agreement
5.1. Ms Booth agrees that she will not act in any way which is inconsistent with this agreement such as, for example, by denying responsibility for the conduct referred to above. That may result in a disciplinary sanction or a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal on the original facts and allegations. Acting in a way which is inconsistent with this agreement may also constitute a separate breach of Principles 2, 6 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2011.
6.1. Ms Booth agrees to pay the costs of the SRA's investigation in the sum of ?300. Such costs are due within 28 days of a statement of costs due being issued by the SRA.
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