Edge in insolvency arrangement

THE MAN behind the massive grass roots campaign to put a stop to cut-price conveyancing fees is the subject of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement.

John Edge entered into the IVA with his creditors earlier this year.

But the campaigning solicitor from Bournemouth, who shot to national prominence in the summer at the head of a huge initiative to bring back scale fees, has stressed the private arrangement has nothing to do with his own firm, Edge Leydon Ellis.

“It was the result of property development work which went wrong and it is my own loss,” he said.

“My legal practice is completely ring-fenced and the Law Society is perfectly aware of that. It is more than happy for me to carry on practising.”

Edge burst onto the national legal scene in July when he started collecting the signatures of solicitors who supported his call for the reintroduction of scale fees.

The campaign was swiftly taken up by newly elected vice-president Robert Sayer and council member Anthony Bogan, and by September Edge was claiming the support of around 10,000 solicitors.

Edge said he had informed both Sayer and Bogan of the IVA at the start of his campaign and they had agreed it had “no possible relevance”.

“I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of,” he said, denying the IVA had any bearing on his campaign which he said was designed to help all 60,000 solicitors.

Edge is continuing to press for a solution to the conveyancing problem and is expecting the council to come up with firm proposals in December.

He has written to local law societies calling on them to send representatives to the meeting.

IVAs are a method by which insolvent individuals can avoid bankruptcy. The procedure was established by the Insolvency Act 1986 and is popular among solicitors because they are not allowed to practice if declared bankrupt. The agreements can only be formed under the supervision of an insolvency practitioner with the support of 75 per cent of a debtor's creditors by value.

They are registered with the Department of Trade and Industry and can last for several years.

A spokeswoman for the Solicitors Complaints Bureau said Edge's personal circumstances were confidential.

She said solicitors with IVAs could continue to practise although the Law Society usually laid down conditions on practising certificates which could require greater scrutiny of accounts.