SIF coughs up over £1,000 claim after two-year tussle

THE SOLICITORS Indemnity fund (SIF) has finally paid a £1,000 claim against a criminally-convicted solicitor last week, two years after it was originally filed – and will face costs likely to be six times the original claim.

The settlement follows a story in The Lawyer two weeks ago in which the solicitor acting for the plaintiff, Graham Balchin of London firm Bolt Burdon, attacked SIF for dragging its heels.

On the same day as the article appeared, SIF's panel solicitors Wansbroughs Willey Hargrave made a payment into court on behalf of SIF of £1,600 – which represented the amount claimed plus interest.

After consulting with his client, Nigerian immigrant Henry Adelana, Balchin accepted the offer.

Adelana had been attempting to retrieve £1,000 he had given to solicitor Hemamali Graham in 1991 as a bail surety while he was awaiting an immigration hearing.

Graham faces being struck off the roll following her conviction in 1994 for obtaining property by deception.

Balchin told The Lawyer: “We will be seeking costs of slightly over £3,000 – assuming Wansbroughs' costs are similar, it will prove to be a pretty expensive thousand pounds for SIF.”

But SIF has defended the length of time taken to resolve the action.

Bryan Stewart, senior claims manager, said: “This claim, although not huge in value, had different features behind it that necessitated proper inquiries being made.

“The matter was further complicated by the lack of adequate evidence to support the extent of the claimant's loss. These and other, external but related, features contributed to the delay in resolving this particular case.”

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