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Carrick Carr Wright


From The Yorkshire Post



Tribunal told law firm kept cash for office use


Alexandra Wood

SEVEN solicitors were accused yesterday of misusing huge sums of clients' money to try to keep their business afloat.

It was claimed the partners in Hull firm Carrick Carr Wright kept stamp duty and land registry money in office accounts to reduce their overdraft.
Cashier Kevin Rooney even gave himself a bonus to help pay for a holiday villa, the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal heard.

In August 2002 the Savile Street-based firm, one of Hull's biggest, was taken over by the Law Society.

Investigators found the rules governing finances had been repeatedly breached since at least 1994, said Geoffrey Williams, for the Law Society, with a 338,000 "black hole" in their clients' accounts.

"I put this as very serious professional misconduct indeed. This case is a disastrous failure to discharge duty going back over a period or many years."
Mr Williams said there were clear warning signs which would have led any solicitor to the 'inescapable conclusion' that there were real problems in the business. But no independent audit was undertaken.

By the time the firm was taken over by the Law Society it had liabilities of more than 1m. "The firm, which was in terminal decline for several years, ended in catastrophe," Mr Williams said.

Five special bank accounts were set up to channel clients' money into the office accounts. Stamp duty was transferred into the office account which was 915,000 overdrawn when the firm was taken over, the hearing was told.

"It wasn't paid, it was left there for indefinite periods. Payment was only made when pressure was applied," Mr Williams said.
All the solicitors knew what was happening at the firm, it was claimed.

It was also alleged that cashier Kevin Rooney, from Hedon, paid himself a bonus from clients' accounts linked to the the purchase of a villa abroad. He said the partners should have notified the Law Society and the police about the cashier, who is not before the tribunal and is believed to be in Florida.
Charges faced by John Wright, 58, of Hull, Philip Goodall, 47, of Selby, Michael East, 56, of Hornsea, David Prescott, 38, also of Hornsea, Jonathan Carr, 56, of Hull, Paul Scott, 45, of York and Malcolm Grassam, 54, of Beverley, include not keeping books properly, making improper payments from clients' accounts, using clients' money for their own purposes, making false entries into books of account, wrongly paying their own funds into clients' accounts and wrongly retaining payments from the legal service commissions.

The hearing continues.

25 January 2005


News updates:

April 2005




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