Bad publicity causes firm to be axed by lenders.

Staying on lender panels seems to be getting harder.  Andersons Solicitors in Croydon have been removed from lenders panels within days of BAILI publishing the court report of their application for judicial review against the SRA.

In what appears to be a case where they have been removed from panels before any allegations against them by the SRA have been proven they now face a considerable hit to their business and are already making redundancies.

Like many firms Andersons use a menu of additional pricing costs that apply if certain circumstances occur on a file such as a guarantor being required for the mortgage.  The SRA claims that the firm has failed to provide adequate cost information to clients and has treated its clients unfairly.  The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (“SDT”) is due to hear these allegations on the 28th January 2013.

Similar allegations have been made against Andersons by the Law Society in the past and the SRA in 2001, 2005 and 2009.  Mr Anderson informs us that following formal adjudication  of these matters he has always been found innocent but the regulator has continued to pursue his firm.  This has caused Mr Anderson considerable distress over the years.  He has even asked the OFT to confirm that they are happy with the way he presents his charges to his clients and he tells us that the OFT suggested some minor changes to include a glossary that he has incorporated into his documentation.

Mr Anderson wished to protect his brand therefore sought a judicial review to require the SRA not to publish the details of the firm until the day of the case.

Andersons lost that judicial review and not only have the details of the case and allegations of the hearing of the 28th January been published but so too had the details of the judicial review.

Christopher Anderson said “Within days of publication of the judicial review case report and publication of the hearing we have been removed from all the panels in the Lloyds Banking Group, Bank of Ireland and ING Direct.  This is a serious blow to our firm and we have already started a redundancy process.”

“Lenders are jumping the gun before the hearing.”

An SRA spokesman said “An SRA spokesperson said: "We are very pleased that the judge has found in the SRA’s favour in response to the challenge to our policy to publish details of referrals to prosecute before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Our publication policy has been in place since 2008, and was subject to formal, public consultation. We have revisited it since then, most recently in 2012.

"Since 2008, we have published in total around 2,500 regulatory decisions , secure in the knowledge that the publication of decisions improves transparency and provides confidence to consumers of legal services."

A Law Society spokesman said:

“We continue to have concerns about the SRA’s approach. Their publication policy may lead to considerable injustice to solicitors. Publication notices don’t necessarily relate to solicitors who have had any regulatory decision made against them; the decision has merely been passed onto another authority who has certified that there is a case to answer. Publishing details of the allegations as this stage is not in the public interest. If the SRA believes that the solicitor presents a risk to the public then it should take regulatory action to mitigate the risk. “

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