UK’s richest lawyer faces Law Society ban

The senior partner of Warrington firm Avalon Solicitors has emerged as the UK’s highest-earning solicitor, taking home a profit in the region of £13m last year. But he is now at risk of being struck off due to his role in the controversial miners’ compensation scheme.

Andrew Nulty and his firm Avalon are being hauled before a Law Society disciplinary tribunal for alleged breach of solicitors’ accounting rules, practice rules and principles of practice. Avalon also allegedly took fees from miners’ compensation awards despite being paid around £1,500 by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for each case handled.

Avalon brought in £21.2m in fees during the past financial year and made a net profit of £15.5m – a margin of 73 per cent. The firm’s average profit per equity partner of £7.75m dwarfs the rest of the UK’s top 100 firms.

The firm has just two partners, Nulty and managing partner Anthony Chorlton. Nulty took home the lion’s share of the profit, some £13m, with Chorlton pocketing around £2.5m.

The bulk of Avalon’s turnover, 68 per cent, or £14.4m, came from acting for miners claiming for compensation under the DTI’s ‘Coal Health’ scheme.

The firm is one of around a dozen awaiting a Law Society disciplinary tribunal hearing for its role in the scheme.

Nulty said: “I can confirm that all miners’ claims dealt with by Avalon have received their full compensatory award, with no deductions from their awards.”

He denied knowledge of the other allegations, but confirmed that the firm has been investigated.

Avalon’s 140 staff deal with volume claims litigation, including financial mis-selling issues, all on a contingency fee basis. Nulty is hoping to float the firm on AIM when this is permitted.

Nulty is following the example of the big US class action outfits in his model for Avalon and is examining the potential for a link-up with a US firm.