Solicitor Costs - Solicitor Sacked

A North Norfolk solicitor called Trevor Hobden was struck off (ie sacked as a solicitor by his professional body) for charging clients by the weight of their file. This included cases where he had done no work at all. Now that is a good case to have a solicitor sacked, but read on.

Hobden was a former equity partner in a firm of solicitors called the Canada House PartnershipOne of his business partners, who was concerned at how he was billing clients, reported him to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The same partner also reimbursed the clients. The Canada House Partnership eventually split up and Hobden continued to practice as Convey First based in Norwich.

When investigators finally got round to investigating his case he told them he billed clients by weighing the file in his hand. He claimed this was because he had not been taught how to properly cost a file (usually a simple task of checking the time recorded and multiplying this by the hourly rate, adding VAT and including disbursements) to calculate the charge to the client.

In some cases Hobden charged three times the proper fee, in others he charged when no work had been done. He was dealing with probate matters (ie the estates of dead people) and was taking the money from the estates, on occasion taking all of the cash assets, without even issuing a bill.

Hobden was found guilty by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal of taking money from clients without delivering a bill, taking money that was not properly due to him, overcharging and failing to give clients proper information. He was struck off as a solicitor. However, despite finding him dishonest, for some reason he was cleared of charges of having compromised or impaired his integrity!