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When is a Solicitor not a Solicitor?

A general discussion about community fees and legal issues.

Important update on Kettlewell Solutions Limited's liquidation / Letter from Robson Scott
25 September 2013

We have been inundated with enquiries from communities and administrators who have received an undated letter from Robson Scott sent on behalf of Michael Reeves, the liquidator appointed by Stephen Paul Kettlewell and Kettlewell Solutions Ltd ("KSL").

As you will recall from our previous reports Mr. Kettlewell refused to allow the vast majority of communities' claims which meant that they were not allowed to vote for their own chosen liquidator.

Instead Mr Reeves, Mr Kettlewell's choice of liquidator was appointed.

Mr Kettlewell's chosen liquidator's letter, sent on behalf of Mr Reeves states as follows:-

"I write to advise you on Wednesday, 11 September 2013, [that Kettlewell Solutions Ltd] was placed into liquidation, with Michael Reeves of this firm appointed as liquidator.

Please note that your contract with [KSL] remains in force, and it is our intention to appoint a specialist firm to continue with collecting debts on your behalf under the terms of contract you have previously agreed.

Should you wish to terminate the contract you are likely to be liable to pay an abortive charge to the Company as set out in the terms and conditions on the Company's website, along with any other fees that may have accrued.

We are in the process of reconciling the position on each account, and are aiming to revert to you within the next 21 days with an update statement of account."

We make the following observations about this letter:-

1. Many of the communities for whom we now act, never signed any terms of business with KSL.

2. KSL did publish a set of terms of business on their website but it is difficult to see how these were agreed to by the community. We have asked Mr Reeves to explain this to us, but to date no explanation has been forthcoming.

3. KSL nor its directors were practising solicitors and they did not hold a valid practising certificate as issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and they were not in our view therefore permitted in law to issue legal proceedings in a court of law. Any contract that existed between KSL and a community offering to issue court proceedings was accordingly in our view void for illegality.

We say this especially as only a solicitor with a practising certificate, who has entered into a Damages-Based Agreement (post 1 April 2013) can charge a percentage fee of the debt. The director, Mr Kettlewell, informed us at the meeting of creditors on 11thSeptember 2013 that this was part of KSL's fee structure, even though the terms of business that we have seen do not reflect the latter.

4. In relation to Mr Reeves suggestion that the community will be liable to pay "an abortive charge to the Company" is in our view wrong. This would be tantamount to a penalty clause and such clauses are unlikely to be upheld by a court under English law.

Appealing the Liquidation

We have been approached by communities who are interested in contributing to a fund to pay for barristers and solicitors fees, so that the matter can be fully investigated with a view to investigating the outcome of the creditor's meeting.

Our recommendation is that you contact Charlie Noakes of this office today with the names of the debtors whom KSL was pursuing on your behalf.

If you would like to talk to us about funding an investigation into the outcome of the meeting of creditors, please contact our Will Searle.

Welbeck Law LLP is a firm of Solicitors authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.



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Jeremy Boyle invited to speak on Community Debts to the Urbytus President's Club
05 September 2013

Dear All,

I'm delighted to announce that I have been asked by Urbytus to speak at the Presidents Club on the 16th and 17th of September 2013.

The talk will concentrate mostly on the burning topic of unpaid community fees, and I hope to give some free practical advice as to what steps can be taken to keep the debts under control.

Any presidents or committee members wishing to attend should log onto www.urbytus.es and download the registration form.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Boyle.

Solicitor and Partner at Welbeck Law LLP



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Kettlewell Solutions Ltd trading as Community Fees.
22 August 2013

Kettlewell Solutions Ltd ("KSL")

Over the last year we have succeeded in recovering thousands of euros for our community clients. 

As a result of our success we were contacted by one of our clients in relation to the above company (KSL) and had been instructed to recover money which had been collected by the Company, but which allegedly had not been passed back to our community client. 

You may be aware that we issued a Winding Up petition against the above company, a debt collection entity, on the basis of money our community client claimed was due which KSL had refused or failed to have paid. 

We have since been contacted by another creditor of KSL which has informed us that the company, of its own volition, has given notice that it intends to enter into a ‘creditor voluntary liquidation.’

A meeting of creditors, known as a ‘section 98 meeting’ has been scheduled for 30 August 2013. The Notice under the Insolvency Act 1986 was signed by director Stephen Paul Kettlewell.

If you are owed money by Kettlewell Solutions Limited please do not hesitate to contact us on 0044 (0) 207 467 3999 as soon as possible as we may be able to assist you and represent your interest as a creditor on 30 August 2013. 



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Welbeck Law LLP's War on Rogue Debt Collectors
26 March 2013

I am a solicitor of the Supreme Court in England and Wales and one of the areas in which I specialise, is insolvency law.

I act for liquidators and my work regularly involves investigating the reason for a company's failure. The investigation also revolves around tracing missing company monies and then bringing claims against the former directors where they have misappropriated funds.

I grew up in Spain and have always loved the life style on the Iberian Peninsula and over the years I have met several Spanish abogados. I was asked by a couple of abogados last year if I could help collect in community fees and over the last year our community fee debt collection service has mushroomed and we now act for communities up and down the coast.

Notwithstanding my experience of dealing with several colourful directors, I was surprised when I was approached to act for a community (and several since) who had previously used the 'services' of a debt collection firm based in the North of England.

Because of client confidentiality and our continuing investigations we cannot divulge the details of our community clients nor the specific details and particulars of the complaints made.

I can however list the nature of the complaints which are as follows:-

  • a failure to fully account for debts collected;
  • a failure to account for court fees paid by the community;
  • wrongfully misleading clients into believing that monies had been collected when no such collections had taken place;
  • informing clients that monies collected were being sent by electronic transfer but no such funds materialising;
  • informing clients that hearings were due to take place even though no actual court application had been issued.
  • failing to turn up to a hearing or arranging for representation.

As one might expect the above actions have caused a great deal of stress to the communities involved not least because thay have been cash starved of community payments and hence the reason for using the debt collector concerned in the first place.

My firm is representing several communities with a view to commencing legal proceedings. If you or a community has suffered losses from using a debt collection firm in England, please contact me or one of my colleagues in confidence. Email us at info@welbecklawllp.co.uk or call 952 468967 or 0044 (0) 207 467 3999



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What to expect from your community administrator and solicitor?
26 March 2013

COMMUNITY FEES-WHAT SHOULD A COMMUNITY EXPECT FROM THEIR ADMINISITRADOR? 

This a popular question asked by many Community Presidents and their property owning members writes Tom Parkinson of Jacksons Administradores SL.
 
The recurring reason for this is mainly due a lack of transparency in the Administrator’s operation or simply down to some administrators not providing the service expected of them.
 
There is also a difference of opinion in interpretation as to the ambit and extent of the Administrator’s role. For example should he provide basic accounting services including service charge invoicing? Should he be responsible for instructing and liaising with solicitors instructed to pursue non–payers?  Some administrators have  a comprehensive, ‘hands on role’ which is the style usually found in North European practices.
 
As a President you should also insist on a detailed appointment or engagement letter listing the Administrator’s services which will be provided. This document should include details of the Administrator’s fees and disbursements prior to seeking the member’s approval for his appointment.
The type of service we offer in our engagement letters includes: full accounts procedures, service charge invoicing and collection in the most cost effective manner, monthly debtor and creditor reporting, quarterly management accounts with annual audited accounts.
 
We also offer monthly visits to the Community to inspect and draft maintenance schedules with budget costings and the financial timing projections for the works. We also make ourselves available once a month at the Community’s premises to enable members to discuss in private with the Community board their questions. In addition we have monthly meetings with the Community board to discuss all matters arising from the Community with regard to both financial and operating issues.
 
Finally a Community website can be useful. It can provide access for all Community members which will act as a multi-lingual information centre, providing members with an immediate source of historical data with regard to meeting minutes, orders of the day with details of forthcoming meeting dates and agendas. In addition the website can include the Community’s financial information with periodic updates and a news section for current issues.
 
The positive effect of a website can be seen quickly with members who do not live full time in the Community. It will enable them to establish the facts first hand while at their other home. They will also have notice of forthcoming official meetings which gives them the opportunity to vote by proxy. Full time members benefit from the same transparency and all members are able to communicate quickly with their board. The site also serves as a medium to bring Community members together which in turn leads to less disputes and a better Community payment record, with both on-line Visa /MasterCard and PayPal payment facilities.
 
Put shortly many property buyers in Spain do not appreciate some of the pitfalls of property ownership in Spain or how European legislation can help keep your community cash flow running smoothly. 
 
 For one day only Tom Jackson of Jacksons Administradores S.L. www.jacksons-group.com) and Solicitor Jeremy Boyle of Welbeck Law LLP (www.welbecklawllp.co.uk) will be delivering a seminar at Hotel IPV Beatriz Palace at 12 pm on 4th April 2013.
 
If you are a President or Vice President or if you are on the Community Board please call 952 468967 or email info@welbecklawllp.co.uk to reserve your free space. Please note that due to popular demand places are limited and are offered free of charge but on a first come first served basis.  
 
Venue: Hotel IPV Beatriz Palace.
Ctra. A7. Km. 207
29640 Fuengirola
Málaga -Costa del Sol
Andalucía - España
tel: 952 92 20 00
web:
www.hotelesipv.com
 


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Why pay for your Neighbours Community Fees?
23 May 2012

 

Specialist debt collection law firm, Welbeck Law LLP, based in London, has launched a specialist debt collection service to trace non paying community fee debtors.
 
"As a consequence of changes in European legislation it's now possible for Communities to pursue UK based residents for Community fees", explains founding partner, Jeremy Boyle.
 
Jeremy says "My parents emigrated to Spain in the 1970's. In those days Europe was a very large continent. However now even if the claimant Community is based in Spain we can sue the UK resident whether they are in England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland. You can run but you cannot hide!".
 
In Spain many litigants complain about the time it takes a Community of owners to secure a judgment against the non paying resident.
 
"I have heard that the Spanish Courts have back logs of thousands of cases which cannot have been helped by the austerity measures and that it can take over a year apparently to obtain a judgment. In the UK however the procedure we use is much faster and an Order can usually be obtained within 30 to 60 days of lodgement of the court papers."
 
One further frustration experienced by Abogados and the Administradores de Fincas in Spain is that even when they have a judgment, they cannot enforce it because the non paying debtor is in the UK and the Communities do not have the debtor's UK address.
 
"That is not a major problem in the UK jurisdiction", opines Jeremy Boyle. "We work with professional and fully licensed expert tracing agents who use modern technology to track down errant debtors. We had one case recently where the Community had almost given up trying to trace the debtor. The community administrator and their Abogado were thrilled when the debtor was traced to Birmingham and an offer to repay the €6829 soon followed. I also think it helps that my firm is based in London and the debtors then realise that there is no where left to hide".
 
The beauty is that you do not have to go through the Spanish legal system. If the debtor is resident in the UK he can be pursued through the UK courts which are much faster.
 
"It has always struck me as being fundamentally unfair that the neighbour who diligently pays their community fees on time and has budgeted their money wisely has to pay a higher amount because the UK resident is not paying their fair share", adds Jeremy.
 
Today you can do something about the non paying debtors: bring this article to your President's attention and contact Jeremy Boyle at Welbeck Law LLP whose contact details are: jb@welbecklawllp.co.uk or visit www.welbectlawllp.co.uk Tel. +44 (0) 207467 3999. Welbeck Law LLP is authorised and regulared by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.


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"When is a Solicitor not a Solicitor?"
23 May 2012

 

 

 

 This is a topical issue and the SRA themselves have warned about bogus firms of solicitors setting up.
 
They have also warned that law firms could be held liable for losses caused by a fraudster stealing their identity, even when they are innocent victims.  
 
The legal profession in England & Wales is governed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) who are primarily responsible for monitoring the conduct of solicitors.
 
Before I discuss in detail some of the checks you should include in your investigations, let's look at some terminology.
 
An ‘Abagado’ is a Spanish lawyer and the term derives from the Latin advocatus but unless they have sat various transfer exams they are not entitled to practise as solicitors in the courts of England and Wales.
 
Barristers’ specialise in courtroom advocacy, draft legal pleadings and give expert legal opinions.
 
Debt Collection Agency’ Usually not run by solicitors but usually licensed by the Office of Fair Trading. They can chase debtors but are not permitted to conduct litigation in the English courts.
 
Lawyer’ is a blanket term to describe abogado, solicitor, or barrister.
 
A ‘Solicitor’  is a lawyer who traditionally deals with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. Since the replacement of the House of Lords with the Supreme Court the full title of a solicitor is now "Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales".
 
Summary Tips:-
 
-Ask for the Solicitor's roll number. This is given to each solicitor and is an individual number and if in doubt contact the Law Society or the SRA.
 
-Ask to see the individual's Practising Certificate.
 
-Log on to the Law Society website and use there search engine "Find a Solicitor" which enables you to search against a name of the individual claiming to be a solicitor or the firm name.
 
-If the name does not appear, call the Law Society or SRA and ask to speak to the records department.
 
Jeremy Andrew Boyle (Roll number 159785) is a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England & Wales and the founding partner of Welbeck Law LLP (SRA number 486396) www.welbecklawllp.co.uk
 

 

 
 
 


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