Former City lawyer to be struck off over excessive expenses claims

FORMER Barlow Lyde & Gilbert salaried partner Justin Codrai has been ordered to be struck off following allegations that, among other things, he charged clients for first class air fares and in fact travelled business class.

In written findings just published by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal following a hearing in December last year the tribunal brands the activities of Codrai, a solicitor since 1984, as “deliberately and persistently dishonest”. Codrai has lodged an appeal.

The tribunal had been told by Andrew Hopper, who made the application against Codrai, that Codrai was a “clever and brilliant” lawyer.

But Hopper said it was estimated that he had overcharged clients a minimum of u73,000 in relation to his expenses.

The tribunal said Codrai had made a statement saying: “I frequently, but not on every occasion, travelled club class for business trips abroad while claiming a first class fare. The balance was used for a variety of things such as off-setting the cost of holidays for myself and/or my wife or purchasing items unrelated to business.”

Codrai was said to have admitted that with the benefit of hindsight he had been wrong to adopt this policy regarding air fares.

He asked the tribunal to view what had happened as foolishness rather than dishonesty arising from a genuine misunderstanding of the position at a time when he was relatively young and working under extreme pressure.

However, the tribunal in ordering him to be struck off said they took the view that his conduct had been deliberately designed to “line his pocket” at the expense of his clients and that he had put his own interests before those of his clients on the basis that they could afford it.