Solicitor Costs - Fraudulent Behaviour

It must be remembered that examples of solicitors fees being fraudulent are rare in the extreme. This case highlights an example of what can happen, but should not be regarded as the norm.

In 2001 Timothy Robinson, a solicitor running a 5-office firm near Cheltenham called Robinsons, was convicted in the first of a number of trials against people in his firm for conspiracy to defraud in respect of fraudulent costs claims. In total 22 people were found or pleaded guilty.

The firm dealt with criminal defence work and had a high profile. The investigation had commenced around 1993 and involved fraudulent claims to the Legal Aid Board for charges for work that had not been done. Estimates put the value of the fraud at up to £8,500,000, although the true amount is not known.

In 1995 investigators found that Legal Aid forms were being signed upon behalf of supposed "clients" who did not exist. One of the matters which apparently tipped them off was that more hours were physically being claimed in some instances than there were in a day. Time was either being inflated on genuine cases or fictitious claims were being submitted for cases that never existed. One of the employees claimed that 90% of forms being submitted were fraudulent.

Timothy Robinson was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for his part in the fraud. He also had to pay over £1,000,000 in compensation and legal costs and was also struck off by the Law Society. Having served half of his sentence he was released in 2004 and is back giving legal advice again!

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