In another chapter to the ongoing story of Slater and Gordon’s (S&G) troubled Quindell buyout, the firm has been hit with an £80,000 fine for disclosing confidential client information.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) today (29 June) imposed a £40,000 financial penalty on both S&G and Quindell Legal Services, now Slater Gordon Solutions, for disclosing un-redacted confidential information and documents from 7,087 client matter files to other firms. The pair were also ordered to pay the SRA’s costs of £26,000.
According to the SRA, the breaches took place between December 2014 and February 2015, shortly before S&G’s troublesome £637m acquisition of Quindell’s professional services division.
A spokesperson for S&G said: ‘We take our obligations relating to confidentiality extremely seriously. It is important to stress the SRA concluded there was no evidence that clients’ data was released outside of firms regulated by the SRA. However, we accept the SRA’s conclusion that a breach took place in relation to the due diligence process during this complex business transaction.’
Shortly after the Quindell professional services division was bought by S&G the firm ran into financial difficulty, posting a $958m loss for the six months ending 31 December 2015. This was primarily due to a hefty write-down on the Quindell deal. S&G is pursuing a fraudulent misrepresentation claim against the seller, Watchstone Group (the renamed Quindell). Watchstone denies fraudulent misrepresentation and is defending the claim.
In an effort to put its turbulent relationship with Quindell behind it, S&G announced in May that it would roll its legal and former Quindell divisions into a single corporate entity and invest £30m in new technology. The unification brought its own troubles however, with the firm’s offices in Fareham and Sheffield being shut in order to focus on larger regional hubs.
The firm also appointed a new-look management team, with ex-managing director of Sainsbury’s Argos Financial Services, Martyn Beauchamp, taking on the newly-created role of chief customer officer. Emma Holt, previously the firm’s head of personal injury, was appointed chief risk officer.
To read more on S&G’s rise and fall, read ‘The Icarus Syndrome’.