A solicitor who broke ranks with his fellow professionals to back the government’s legal aid reforms has been banned from acting as a company director after failing to pay £600,000 in tax.
John Wilson, who reckons that lawyers should do legal aid work for free, must now step down as a director of Law Offices UK, the company behind his Yorkshire-based law firm, Wilson’s Solicitors.
The disqualification — which lasts for seven years — follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service into the Lawyours Limited Liability Partnership, a firm established by Wilson in 2007 to provide law administration support to Wilson’s Solicitors.
The High Court found that the billing between Lawyours and Wilson’s Solicitors was “not at all efficient”, leaving Lawyours with insufficient income to meet its tax bill. While the tax bill for Lawyours was increasing, it continued to pay staff, accommodation and equipment costs on behalf of Wilson’s Solicitors.
In reaching his decision, Judge Roger Kaye QC said: “Mr Wilson’s conduct…shows incompetence in a marked degree and falls far short of the standards to be expected and encouraged.”
He added: “I do not say he was dishonest or lacked probity. What he lacked was the ability to appreciate his own actions might be wrong, or to take responsibility for his own decisions, instead seeking, unjustifiably, to cast blame on almost everyone with whom he came into contact.”
Following the hearing, Wilson confirmed that he would step down as one of Law Offices UK’s three directors, but said that he intends to continue in his role as a solicitor and insisted that the ruling will not affect the day-to-day running of Wilson’s Solicitors.
He continued: “Regarding the judgment I am pleased that it vindicates my stance that I did not act dishonestly or lack probity. It is my opinion that the company, like many other companies at that time, was sacrificed when the now state-owned banks were in financial turmoil and they mercilessly cancelled pre-arranged overdraft facilities. I would like to reiterate that this was a completely separate business to the firm of solicitors with which my name is associated.”
Those interested to read more from Wilson may enjoy his contributions to this lively discussion thread.