City solicitor loses argument with taxman over £215k payment made to ex-firm’s bank

Tax calculator and pen

A City law firm partner who had to pay £215,000 to settle his debt to the bank of his former firm, which had gone bust, was not able to deduct it from his earnings at his new firm for tax purposes, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

February 5th, 2018

Law firm faces £68,000 VAT bill after tribunal rules electronic property search fees are not disbursements

HM Revenue & Customs HMRC

A leading north-west law firm has been ordered to pay £68,000 in VAT for electronic local authority property searches it procured from an agency, after a tribunal ruled that they should not have been treated as disbursements. The case, in which the Law Society unsuccessfully intervened, could have significant repercussions for many conveyancing firms.

September 18th, 2017

Solicitor who used office account “as personal account” is struck off

police station

A sole practitioner who did not have a client account and admitted using his office account “at times as a personal account” has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The tribunal heard that Michael Healey, based in Liverpool, misappropriated over £31,000 of client money before going bankrupt.

July 21st, 2017

Personal injury firm loses £4.5m claim that work referrer did not deliver cases it promised

car crash - air bag

A personal injury law firm has lost a £4.5m claim against a legal expenses insurance underwriting agency that the expected number of referrals did not materialise. The firm failed to convince the High Court that there was a contractually binding oral promise in place from 2006 to 2011, when referral fees were lawful.

June 28th, 2017

New definition of ‘client money’ dropped but SRA gives green light to third-party accounts

Legal Futures Conference Nov16: Innovation

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has dropped a new definition of ‘client money’ which would have excluded fees and disbursements in response to the concerns of practitioners, but is otherwise moving ahead with a huge rewrite of the accounts rules that reduces them from 41 pages to just seven, and approves the use of third-party managed accounts.

June 13th, 2017

Solicitors lose claim over losses caused by tax mitigation schemes

Tax calculator and pen

Partners at a leading personal injury law firm have lost a professional negligence action against the accountants who recommended they sign up to two ultimately unsuccessful tax mitigation schemes. They succeeded at every stage of their claim only to fall at the last when the judge ruled that they brought the action out of time.

June 5th, 2017

Non-lawyer managers setting bar high for equity partners, survey finds

Karen Hain

Fee income per partner at larger firms soared last year from an average of £777,000 to almost £1.4m, a survey has found. Accountants MHA, who produce an annual benchmarking report, said the main reason was a fall in the number of equity partners at these firms, helped by an increase in profitable work.

May 10th, 2017

Cost of conveyancing rose by more than a third over past decade

for sale sign

The cost of conveyancing has risen 37% over the past decade, greater than the overall rise in the cost of moving home, new research has found. But it remains a relatively small proportion of the overall cost of moving home, however, which was put at £9,472 – although this was considerably more than people budgeted for.

May 5th, 2017

Law firm fee income up by 6%, benchmarking survey finds

Andy Harris Hazlewoods

The financial performance of smaller law firms has improved over last year, with both fee income and profits up significantly above inflation, according to an annual benchmarking survey published this week. Very little increase in salary costs, improved lock-up, and reductions in both WIP and debtor days contributed to the positive picture.

April 28th, 2017

High Court: law firm “sufficiently well-funded” to cope with freezing order over £2m in fees in its client account

rcj 2

Leading litigation firm Stewarts Law is “sufficiently well-funded” to cope with £2m intended to pay its fees and disbursements sitting frozen in its client account, while the true owner of the money is identified, the High Court has ruled.

April 4th, 2017