The following information is the full text of an email I received from the Legal Complaints Service regarding the situation at Wolstenholmes:
Thank you for email about Wolstenholmes.
As you are aware we have recently received a large number of reports, and concerns, concerning this firm.
Both the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) are actively monitoring the situation and as a result of this the firm have now been intervened into by the Law Society (this means that the firm has closed down). The intervention will protect the immediate position and preserve documentation and any client monies.
The agent in charge of the intervention is Kieran Walshe of DWF solicitors. Their details are:
Tel: 0161 603 5000
Fax: 0161 603 5050
If you suffer financial losses, or additional expense, as a result of any poor service provided by Wolstenholmes, we have power to direct the payment of compensation - for this and any distress and inconvenience you may suffer.
If regulatory action is required, this will be initiated as soon as possible by the SRA.
In the meantime, we understand that customers are clearly concerned about the situation, and what they should do.
If you need your file for matters that are ongoing, you have two options:
1. DWF has taken possession of all Wolstenholmes files. You can either contact DWF for your file (but will need to provide ID) and then seek independent legal advice about progressing your matter.
2. You can wait for DWF to contact you for instructions on what they would like you to do.
Files which have been sent out to other firms ( e.g. Sterling Law, Dar & Co) are also currently being transferred to DWF although there may be a delay in DWF taking possession of them.
For customers concerned about deposits paid, Wolstenholmes accounts have been frozen. DWF will need to do a reconciliation of accounts, but if you need these funds again you should contact DWF.
The LCS cannot give legal advice, but we hope this may be of some practical assistance to you:-
If you haven’t exchanged contracts
If you haven't yet reached a stage of your transaction where you are financially committed, for example, you haven’t exchanged contracts – we would recommend that you instruct a new solicitor to complete the transaction - with or without Wolstenholme's file.
You can complain later, provided that you do so within six months.
If you have already exchanged contracts and are about to complete
If you have particularly pressing concerns, for example you have exchanged but now need to complete your sale / purchase imminently, you will need to urgently decide how to proceed. The best course for you would be to take independent legal advice. There may still be a means of completing with the assistance of a new solicitor, particularly if no mortgage is involved - but it will not be possible in all cases.