Solicitor Timothy Schools struck off

A NORTH West solicitor who ran a firm based in Sale and then Preston has been struck off after an investigation by the regulator.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said Tmothy Schools from Sedbergh in Cumbria who ran ATM Solicitors, formerly of Sale and latterly of Preston, had failed to act with integrity.

Despite trying to have the disciplinary hearing delayed on health grounds, Mr Schools was struck off  after the tribunal proved 10 allegations brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The SRA’s allegations included failing to act with integrity, acting where there was a conflict of interests, and acting in a manner which led to his independence and that of ATM Solicitors being compromised.

The allegations related to the involvement of Mr Schools and ATM Solicitors acting on behalf of clients who challenged the enforceability of various Consumer Credit Agreements.

Mr Schools did not attend the hearing, the costs of which are still to be fully assessed, although the panel ordered an initial £60,000 to be paid.

The Tribunal found that Mr Schools’  misconduct was: “aggravated by the fact that the respondent’s actions were quite deliberate and continued for a period of time.”

It added: “The Tribunal found that he had been motivated by financial gain and the misconduct arose from the way he operated the firm. His disregard for clients, preferring his own financial interests, was damaging to the reputation of the profession.”

Gordon Ramsay, SRA director of legal and enforcement, said: “This is Mr Schools’ second appearance at the Tribunal for similar breaches of the Code of Conduct. His deliberate conduct fell so far below the standard required of a solicitor that striking off was the only appropriate course of action.”

In 2003 Mr Schools was running a Lancaster-based personal injury firm called Life Repair Group, previously called  The Compensation Group, when it collapsed.

He was also involved in a now-collapsed Cayman Islands-based fund called Axiom Legal Financing Fund, which lent money to ‘no win, no fee’ law firms.