A GLASGOW firm of solicitors has denied trying to benefit from former clients of a business that went bust.

Jones Whyte took over McClure Solicitors after it went into administration earlier this year and has now told people with Family Protection Trusts they will have to pay £300 plus VAT if they want to make sure the trusts were set up properly.

In an email to one client, seen by the Sunday National, Jones Whyte said it had been inundated with calls and emails from former clients of McClure’s.

It added that, in reviewing some of the trusts, it had found that assets such as homes were not protected properly.

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The email also states that McClure had not conducted important annual reviews of most trusts to make sure assets were safeguarded or made regulatory returns to HMRC.

It warns: “There can be tax implications to this, and as such it is important that you are aware of the various dates where returns must be made to HMRC, the potential tax consequences, and plan for these dates.”

The email then says that Jones Whyte would have to charge £300 plus VAT to review any trusts to make sure they are in order.

One of McClure’s clients, who paid a fee of £3000 to set up a Family Protection Trust so he could leave his house to his family, said he was angry he was being asked to pay more if he wanted it reviewed.

“I thought it was a bit of a scandal asking for £300 plus VAT to review it,” he said.

However, Greg Whyte, of Jones Whyte, said the firm had not taken over any funds from McClure when it went bust and would have to charge for any work needing done as a result.

He said: “It is difficult for us because we are between a rock and hard place.

“We are never going to come across as the good guys because people thought McClure would deal with everything but we are just the people that volunteered to take over the files. We can help but we are not in a position to do it for free.

“We are not McClure. I didn’t work for McClure’s and I didn’t sell one of these trusts but my rough understanding is that clients paid a lump sum up front for McClure’s to take care of everything.”

He added: “We did not get the original payment so while we totally sympathise with someone in that situation and can try to help, we will have to charge or we will go bust ourselves.

“We did not take over any money from McClure’s. We put ourselves forward to try and act on behalf of these people but part of that process involves making sure we give them the correct advice.”

Whyte said the firm had come across some trusts that had not been set up properly which was why it was offering to review them.

“We can’t stress enough that this is not profiteering for us as the clients are totally free to go to anyone they want and seek advice and we will provide whatever papers we hold to whoever they want to instruct,” he said.

“Ultimately the clients are still in a situation where the assets are protected by a trust and now they have the option to take advice on them but they don’t have to.”

Rachel Wood, executive director of regulation at the Law Society of Scotland, said: “Following the cessation of trading of McClure Solicitors, all client files and any funds held were transferred securely to Jones Whyte.

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“Solicitors’ clients can choose to refer their business to another solicitor firm. The Law Society can help members of the public find alternative solicitors in their area.

“If a client is not satisfied with the service or conduct of a solicitor they can opt to contact the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC).

“It is the gateway for all complaints for Scottish legal matters and has the power to deal with complaints about the service provided to clients.

“The SLCC refers all conduct matters regarding Scottish solicitors to the Law Society to investigate.”