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Spicerhaart valuations firm goes into liquidation

Monday 20th February 2012
Written by Rosalind Renshaw

A valuations subsidiary of Spicerhaart is being put into liquidation because of escalating claims against it by ‘ambulance chasers’ – even though it ceased trading five years ago.

It is understood that Spicerhaart has sunk millions into settling claims brought against its arms-length subsidiary H.C. Wolton & Sons, a firm of chartered surveyors and valuation providers.

But over the last year, the number of claims which Spicerhaart felt were totally groundless accelerated, with no-win, no-fee law firms approaching lenders. Many would have hoped for lucrative out-of-court settlements.

Other property firms, notably Countrywide, are also thought to be targeted by firms, encouraged by what one source described as the PPI mis-selling bandwagon.

A statement from Spicerhaart did not mince its words about the fate of long-established H.C. Wolton & Sons.

It said that Woltons “has been forced into liquidation due to escalating claims regarding alleged false property valuations relating to years prior to period 2007 – when it ceased trading.
 
“Such spurious claims have accelerated recently, spurred mostly by feverish no-win, no-fee lawyers seeking to take a punt on contesting valuations made before the advent of the credit crunch. 
 
“The nature of these claims, relying on subjective property valuations made many years ago, has resulted in a number of long and very costly legal cases with associated legal fees often much larger than the claims themselves.

“Spicerhaart has endeavoured to settle legitimate claims over the last five years on behalf of Woltons, despite Woltons being a totally standalone subsidiary with no recourse to the assets of the group.

“However, recent claims have increasingly been made at the instigation of ambulance chasing lawyers rather than legitimate claims from lenders. The costs of dealing with these claims have risen to astronomical proportions as lawyers argue over the intricacies of the valuations made many years ago.” 

H.C. Wolton & Sons was established in 1910 and Spicerhaart acquired it in 1995. The company ceased trading in 2007 when Spicerhaart decided to refocus its surveying and valuation business.

Last year, EAT carried this story:

http://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/news_features/Claims-pile-in-against-over-valuing-by-surveyors

(6) Comments

Added by Daniel Mills on 2012-02-27 13:45:28

My firm is one of Spicerhaart’s chosen legal partners. We have built up a strong relationship with the estate agency business over a number of years. It is true to say that we do pay referral fees to the company (as permitted by the Law Society) and this does mean that the transactions generate a slightly lower average profit than those where we do not pay referral fees. However, in return we obtain instructions in many hundreds of cases per year which we would not otherwise receive. The clients obtain the benefit of a no sale no fee agreement and we are required to give a guaranteed level of good service (not that that is an issue!). Everyone wins, with perhaps the exception of our competitors who are not receiving such an excellent source of work
Added by Dave on 2012-02-22 17:48:03

Spic Lawyer- If real why not use your real name?? Suggests you are perhaps a Spicer plant.

Same in Japan.
Added by Spicer Lawyer on 2012-02-22 10:04:12

Big Baloo - I am one of the 'no sale no fee' firms that you speak about but I am a conveyancing specialist and would like to distinguish that all of the lawyers on the Spicerhaart panel are specialist conveyancers, at the higher end of our industry, not the 'no win no fee' firms you speak about.

I can assure you that the work is profitable and very welcomed. In all my dealings with Spicerhaart, I have found the individuals to be very professional and over time have become friends with a lot of them. In my experience, we have a combined goal to supply a great service to our mutual clients at a highly competitive cost.
Added by Fun Boy Agent on 2012-02-21 17:50:37

Hey Spicer boys,

Get Lesley Miller to write back to these solicitors, use yellow paper, make it look hand written in red ink.

It will work
Added by Anonymous on 2012-02-21 12:46:01

Not exactly sure that figure is correct ...definitely much more than that (in our experience)
Added by Big Baloo on 2012-02-20 13:31:54

Sorry are these same type of no win no fee firms that they use for their no sale no fee conveyancing? You know the type the ones were Spicer Haart keep all the margin. I can’t say I have much sympathy. Conveyancing fees of £175 paid to the lawyer. Really goes to show what goes around comes around.

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