Uncertain times for Wiseman Lee customers

Wiseman Lee, one of the most prominent and longstanding law firms in Wanstead, has been closed with immediate effect by the Solicitors Regulation Authority following its parent company going into administration.

The offices on Cambridge Park have been closed and all documents, papers and money held by the firm – including clients’ money – have been seized by the authority. Another solicitors’ firm has been appointed to deal with cases which were being handled by Wiseman Lee.

In a statement, the SRA said it had “intervened” into the parent company, Axion Ince, at various addresses.

Wiseman Lee was acquired by the much larger firm in March this year, when senior partner David Wershof said in a statement (which has aged badly): “We look forward to being part of a larger firm with the resources and dynamic growth plans that will offer further opportunities and career prospects to our team, and a wider range of services to our clients.”

The SRA statement issued on Tuesday says:

We have intervened into Axiom Ince at various addresses.

This to protect the interests of clients and former clients of the firm.

This intervention follows our previous closures of the individual practices of Pragnesh Modhwadia, Idnan Liaqat and Shyam Mistry, former directors of the firm.

An intervention means we have closed a firm with immediate effect. We will stop the firm from operating, take possession of all documents and papers held by the firm, and take possession of all money held by the firm (including clients’ money). We are not responsible towards employees or trade creditors of firms that we have intervened in.

We have appointed agents – other solicitor firms – to deal with all matters currently held by Axiom Ince. The agents will assess all on-going matters and deal with those of greatest need first. Our archive team will take control of all documents relating to closed matters held by the firm, such as copies of deeds and wills.

Clients of Axiom Ince do not need to contact either the agents or us at this time. If anyone does have an urgent query, however, then further information on who best to contact is available. Clients and former clients might find our FAQs useful before contacting either the agents or ourselves.

As there are on-going investigations related to this matter,  no further details can be disclosed. It is only if further action become necessary that any information is released into the public domain. There is no timescale for how long this work will take.

Elsewhere the SRA announced that it had appointed Gordons LLP to take on the work of the Wanstead office. Their contact details are 0113 227 0394 or axiom@gordonsllp.com.

If the system is working it would appear that client money will have been protected by the intervention, but there will inevitably be a hugely unsettling period for Wiseman Lee clients – especially for those whose legal cases or conveyances are ongoing.

It is a sad end for a firm which has been trading in Wanstead for more than 70 years. And clients aren’t the only ones affected – staff who have given quiet, faithful service for years now find themselves out of work.

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