My parents’ wills are caught up in a scandal at solicitor

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My parents died recently. Their wills were held by Coles Solicitors in York, which was forced by the regulator to close last summer.

We were told that the wills and house deeds were in the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) archive and that we had to request their return. We did so in August, and were given an eight-week turnaround. There is still no sign of the documents and we cannot file a probate application without them.

As the SRA is the regulator, there is nobody we can complain to.

LB, York

You have unwittingly been caught in a shocking scandal which has left hundreds of creditors, from the law firm’s employees to HM Revenue and Customs, out of pocket.

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Coles was part of Kingly Solicitors, which had 16 branches across the country. It was closed by the SRA in August after £11m of client money was found to be missing. Most was from estates of deceased clients.

The chain was managed by 35-year-old Nurul Miah and the high court was told by the SRA that he spent client funds on a Ferrari 812 Superfast, buying properties, company running costs and unsecured loans.

Those whose money is missing should be able to make a claim via the SRA’s compensation scheme, but unsecured creditors are owed £17m and unlikely to get it back.

The delays you are experiencing are due to the unprecedented volume and chaos of paperwork inherited by the SRA as a result of the intervention. It has received 1,500 requests for documents from clients and so far returned £5m.

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It said: “Our partner organisations are working hard to return the very significant volumes of files …while complying with the necessary pandemic arrangements. We know this is worrying and continue to contact people to explain what is happening and apologise for any inconvenience.”

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