Four-partner Yorkshire firm Carrick Carr & Wright has been shut down after improperly paying nearly three quarters of a million pounds - half of it client money - into the office account
The firm’s partners have lost a High Court battle where they claimed the Law Society should not shut their practice down as this would infringe their human rights. The Law Society intervened in the practice, shutting it down, taking the partners’ practising certificates away, freezing their bank accounts and closing the client account, on 27 August this year. Carrick Carr, based in Bradford and Hull, has now been shut down. The four partners in the firm are senior partner John Wright, Philip Goodall, Michael East and David Prescott. The partners applied to the High Court to have their practising certificates restored, contending “the decision to intervene infringed their human rights, in particular, the right to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions”, the judgment states. According to the judg ment, the Law Society investigation into the practice discovered that there had been around £725,000 wrongly paid into the Carrick Carr office account. It also found that nearly half of this money had been wrongly transferred back into the client account at some point. The judgment mentions: “Improper transfers from client to office account of £397,364.40, other improper payments into the office account so that the total is £725,116.83 which is to be offset against £339,756 of office account money wrongly paid into the client account.” In the High Court, the four partners blamed a Mr Rooney, a cashier at Carrick Carr for 20 years, for significant breaches of the firm’s account rules over seven years. But the judge found there was “no evidence that Mr Rooney gained personally from his activities at the expense of the firm. This means the partners have gained.” A Law Society intervention agent said the partners could not be contacted as the firm had been shut down. The High Court ruling, handed down by Mr Justice John Behrens, represents a major victory for the Law Society, which is fighting various battles on this issue. The society is currently appealing another High Court decision made against it in July which said its “draconian” method of shutting corrupt solicitors may contravene their right to personal property enshrined in the 1998 Human Rights Act. The case, brought by sole practitioner David Holder, who had £200,000 missing from his client account, is being appealed by the Law Society.