By: 16 February 2024
SSB Law: What we know so far about the fallout

Sheffield-based law firm SSB Law went into administration in early January this year. The West Yorkshire and Lancashire regions have been disproportionately affected, with the crisis hitting national headlines.

Focused on compensation claims under a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement, SSB Law covered areas such as purportedly defective cavity wall insulation (CWI); medical malpractice; personal injury; and breaches of data security. When some CWI claims failed, the company buckled. 

The firm’s former clients have been left grappling with unexpected legal bills. All of which has raised concerns and prompted calls for government intervention. Here’s what we know so far:

The collapse of SSB Law 

According to recent reports from Legal Futures, SSB Law’s demise came amid debts totalling a staggering £200 million owed to six litigation funders.  

Advisory firm FRP said that SSB Law had suffered ‘financial challenges’ and has ceased trading. In truth, despite having nearly 43,000 cases on its books, the firm’s operational costs were not aligned with its caseload. This led to financial strain. 

Almost 200 employees were made redundant. At the time, FRP was supporting former SSB Law workers in applying to the Redundancy Payments Service. 

The human toll of the SSB Law crisis 

A spokesperson for Hugh James, a top 100 law firm which is now acting for former clients of SSB Law, said, “Our clients are seeking compensation after their cases were lost, struck out or withdrawn, through no fault of their own, and as a consequence they’re now facing huge legal bills. 

“We understand there could be in excess of 1,500 CWI claims which have failed, and ex-clients will now face legal bills mounting up to £35,000 on average or more. 

“Our dedicated and experienced legal team is available to help anyone in a similar position. You can contact them on 029 2267 5700 or at erich.kurtz@hughjames.com.” 

Hugh James confirmed that the majority of victims they have spoken with are in West Yorkshire and Lancashire. This average legal bill is well above the median salary in Yorkshire and the Humber, which sat at £31,900 in 2023 according to Statista. 

Former client and taxi driver Jamil Zafar, from Halifax, received a bill for more than £18,900. Speaking to the BBC, he said, “Being a taxi driver, how do I pay this amount of money? It has broken me from inside. I can’t even work properly. The figure is on my mind all the time.” 

Qurrah Ahmed, whose father was slapped with a bill of £13,000, was moved to set up a support group for similar victims. In a social media post, Ahmed said, “There are a lot of people in this situation, including my father. SSB Law have mainly targeted vulnerable groups of people … it’s disgusting what SSB Law have done.” 

Ahmed told BBC reporters, “We have people messaging us at 3am, 4am as they can’t sleep as the anxiety is eating them up. These people are not functioning … their mental health is severely affected.” 

The gravity of the situation prompted Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham to raise concerns in Parliament at the beginning of this month. 

The SRA has stepped in 

With livelihoods and homes at stake, those affected are pleading for swift intervention to alleviate their financial burdens and provide much-needed support during this tumultuous period.  

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has launched an investigation into the matter, yet the fate of the firm’s clients remains uncertain.  

A spokesperson from the SRA said: “We are aware of the concerns of many householders and are investigating these issues.” 

Getting much-needed legal support 

Erich Kurtz from the Hugh James financial mis-selling team said, “The clients we’re representing have previously been informed that they were protected from adverse costs and had ATE insurance to meet any adverse costs they might face. But it is now clear every ex-client we have spoken to is facing significant and unexpected legal bills as a result.”  

“We’re assisting them in seeking a reduction in these adverse costs and helping them reach a compromise on enforcement proceedings to avoid where possible, bailiffs, charging orders or threats of insolvency. Simultaneously we’re pursuing a professional negligence claim against SSB Law’s professional indemnity insurers to discharge the adverse costs they face.” 

Questions also still remain over the regulatory framework governing consumer claims firms, and whether the safeguards to protect clients from such catastrophic outcomes are adequate. As stakeholders grapple with the aftermath, efforts to address systemic vulnerabilities and safeguard consumer interests will be needed to prevent similar crises in the future. 

Image: Canva 
Josie Miller
Josie Miller is Editor of Yorkshire Legal News. She welcomes comments and questions.