A WIRRAL law firm has been closed "with immediate effect" as part of an investigation into alleged "dishonesty".

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) confirmed this week that it has intervened into the practice of Cheshire Law Associates (UK) Ltd, which was situated on Market Street in Hoylake. The closure took effect on December 22 last year.

The SRA said: "There is reason to suspect dishonesty by Paul Ford as a manager of the firm and John Salmon as an employee of the firm, in connection with the firm's business (paragraph 32(1)(d)(i) of Schedule 2 Administration of Justice Act 1985).

"Mr Ford, as a manager of the firm, and the firm itself, have failed to comply with rules applicable to them both by virtue of section 9 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 (paragraph 32(1)(a) of Schedule 2 of that Act)."

An intervention means the SRA has closed a firm with immediate effect.

It will stop the firm from operating, take possession of all documents and papers held by the firm, and take possession of all money held by the firm (including clients' money). It is not responsible towards employees or trade creditors of firms that it has intervened in.

The SRA statement confirmed that it “has appointed an agent to deal with all matters currently held by Cheshire Law Associates (UK) Ltd.

“The agent will assess all on-going matters and deal with those of greatest need first.

“The SRA's archive team will take control of all documents relating to closed matters held by the firm, such as copies of deeds and wills.

“Clients of Cheshire Law Associates (UK) Ltd do not need to contact either the agent or the SRA at this time.

“If anyone does have a query, however, they can contact the agent, Sean Joyce of Stephensons Solicitors LLP, Wigan Investment Centre, Waterside Drive, Wigan, Greater Manchester, WN3 5BA.

“The SRA will now investigate further the issues raised that have led to this intervention to see if any additional action is necessary. At this stage of the SRA's work, no further details can be disclosed.

“It is only if further action become necessary that any information is released into the public domain. There is no timescale for how long this work will take.”

The statement added that further action against solicitors could either be a sanction carried out by the SRA and could be as severe as a reprimand or a £25,000 fine.

If it is decided that a stiffer punishment is required, the SRA will prosecute the matter at the independent Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

The SDT can levy unlimited fines and prevent solicitors from working either by suspending them or removing them from the profession altogether.

Cheshire Law Associates (UK) Ltd was approached for comment.