Past members of independent financial adviser network, Ashley Law, are involved in an action group to investigate the possibility of suing the firm under a joint action.
The dispute has arisen over issues relating to the payment of commission and the marketing of franchise members’ businesses.
A meeting of up to eight concerned IFAs is expected to take place on 8 April.
Former Ashley Law member, Ned Naylor, who is involved with the group, said there was already an individual legal action filed from another past member, Chris Wilson, against Ashley Law.
He added: ‘There are around eight others who are getting together on 8 April to discuss how to proceed with a possible joint action against the company.’
Naylor said Ashley Law had undertaken to: ‘Expend an amount equal to four percentum of the Lincensee’s gross sales’ to promote his business, Ashley Law Blackburn, however he claimed he had seen no such expenditure made. Indeed, he cited the minutes of the Ashley Law Development Forum meeting on 6 March this year, where it was noted: ‘Ashley Law’s margin is insufficient to carry out serious [marketing] exercises without the participation of members,’ to make his point.
Jock Cassidy, managing director of Ashley Law, said he was not prepared to discuss specific comments made by Naylor, but said the fact that Ashley Law did not have sufficient margins within which to offer large marketing campaigns in no way meant it was in breach of contract with licensees.
While a group action has not been put into motion, there are ongoing individual disputes.
Wilson has taken one such action against Ashley Law and filed a claim against the company with Guildford County Court. William McAllister of solicitors, Conway & Co, is acting on Wilson’s behalf.
McAllister said: ‘The dispute is in relation to several alleged breaches of the franchise agreement. First, it is alleged monies due on a monthly basis under the franchise agreement have either not been paid or are continually late by between six and 12 months. Second, there are monies outstanding from as far back as 1997 and no reason has been given for the late payment and no accounts produced to explain why.’
He said there were also aspects to the claim: ‘Alleging contractual stipulations for Ashley Law to undertake marketing had never been complied with.’
Cassidy said of the claim: ‘Our solicitors have lodged an action to have the case struck out because the claim by Mr Wilson: ‘is incoherent, alternatively it does not disclose any legally recognisable claim against the defendant, alternatively it is vexatious and embarrassing to the defendant’.’