Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Monday 14 October 2013

Harris Cartier solicitors Bust : Can't pay its bills

'Severe cash flow problems' & no legal indemnity insurance forces solicitors closure

Reporter: Paul Janik

The Insurance Crisis

Slough's well-known solicitors Harrison Cartier, the business name that replaced the former Harrison Cartwright law firm, has abruptly closed down and vanished leaving startled and bewildered customers and disappointed staff.

The solicitors at Windsor Crown House, 7 Windsor Road, on the northern corner of Herschel Street, called in the 'Receivers' (now known as 'administrators') Zolfo Cooper LLP because of 'severe cash flow problems'.

The legal firm employed a total of 48 staff including 12 solicitors at its Slough branch and 9 at its central London head office in Lincoln's Inn Fields (source: Law Society).

Having failed to obtain the new professional indemnity insurance intended to protect solicitors customers for upto 6 years post event (see Statute of Limitation), Harris Cartier Limited was forced to cease trading.

UK Government regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), imposed stringent new rules on solicitors' Indemnity Insurance and on solicitors' Compensation Fund contributions.

Effective from 1 October 2013, solicitors without the new, often more expensive, insurance cover, known as Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII), are banned from accepting new customers and banned from undertaking new work from existing customers. They may continue working on outstanding tasks for existing customers for a maximum period of 30 days - then the solicitors must go out of business.

According to the Legal Futures web site, Harris Cartier Limited is currently one of 185 solicitors firms experiencing difficulty obtaining the new insurance cover.

The financial problems of the Latvian insurer Balva, who provide insurance to English solicitors, has worsened the re-insurance crisis. On 16 April 2013, Balva was not allowed to accept new business. On 10 September 2013, following action by the Bank of England's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the SRA advised

there is now uncertainty as to whether [insurer] Berliner will, after all, be in a position to accept any solicitors' professional indemnity risks for the year beginning 1 October 2013.

The SRA's new insurance requirements can be a nightmare for many solicitors. Some say the insurance premium, sometimes with brokers 25% commission, despite no history of claims, can be as much as 1/3 of a solicitor's annual income payable in advance with no opportunity to pay by monthly instalments.

The situation is made worse by the SRA's decision to reduce the number of approved insurers offering Professional Indemnity cover to English solicitors.

Background Facts

  • Harris Cartier had two web site names, hclaw.co.uk and harriscartier.co.uk, both registered to Harris & Cartwright on 13 March 2002.
  • Harris Cartier had two Slough locations both in the town centre:-

    Windsor Crown House, 7 Windsor Road.

    Marlborough House, 7-9 Church Street.

    employing these solicitors:-

    Gregory Bee (Beneficial Share Owner)
    Lawrence Cartier (Director)
    Paul Dench (Assistant)
    Katherine Denham (Associate)
    Stephen Fuller (Director)
    Christopher Gooderidge (Beneficial Share Owner)
    Vanessa Hills (Associate)
    Karen McCarthy (Beneficial Share Owner)
    Justin Neal (Director)
    Sadia Patankar (Assistant)
    Deborah Powlesland (Assistant)
    Sandeep Sarkaria (Assistant)

  • Harris Cartier's head office was at:-

    Queens House
    55-56 Lincoln's Inn Fields

    employing these solicitors:-

    Jane Beaven (Assistant)
    Lawrence Cartier (Director)
    Jake Cassidy (Associate)
    Stephen Fuller (Director)
    Gregory McDonagh (Employee)
    Justin Neal (Director)
    Dean Nicholls (Director)
    Jaspreet Patter (Assistant)
    Kent Pattinson (Director)
    Matthew Tuff (Associate)
    Thomas Williamson (Assistant)

  • Before clamping of motor vehicles on private land was banned by law, Harris Cartier used a notorious bunch of nasty clampers to persecute motorists who unknowingly parked on their inadequately signposted land on Saturday afternoons. The cowboy clampers regularly charged frightened motorists £400 or more.
  • According to Companies House, the UK's register of licensed businesses

    HC (Non-Trading) Limited Liability Partnership
    Not in administration
    Company registration number: OC310469
    Established: 08/12/2004
    Previous names:

    Harris Cartier Limited Liability Partnership
    Harris Cartwright Limited Liability Partnership

    Harris Cartier Limited
    In administration
    Company registration number: 07527406
    Established: 11 February 2011
    Mortgage charges: 2
    Previous names:

    Harris Cartier (London) Limited

    Harris Cartier (London) Limited
    Not in administration
    Company registration number: 08335483
    Established: 18 December 2012
    Previous names: None

    The Slough Times wonders what Harris Cartier were called before 2011. Does anyone know ?

Wills & Deeds deposited at Harrison Cartier

Wills, deeds, other documents and all non-contentious matters from Harris Cartier, Slough, have been transferred to:-

Gordon Dadds LLP
6 Agar Street
London WC2N 4HN

020-7493 6151

Contact: Stephen Fuller    stephen.fuller (at) gordondadds.com

Mr Fuller is a practising solicitor. He was a director of both failed companies.

Company Liquidator

The original company liquidator was Zolfo Cooper of Manchester.

Circa February 2015, Zolfo Cooper Europe was purchased by a USA company Alix Partners. They are the current liquidator.

Alix Partners
Zenith Building
26 Spring Gardens
Manchester M2 1AB

0161-838 4500

Contact: Hannah Smallwood      hsmallwood  (at) alixpartners.com