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Ilkley law firm’s director is disqualified over tax
The head of a Bradford law firm has been disqualified as a company director for failing to pay a large tax bill.
John Wilson, managing director of Law Offices UK Ltd, which trades as Wilsons Solicitors in seven branches across the district, including one in Ilkley, was disqualified following a hearing at Leeds County Court yesterday.
The charges relate to the Lawyours Limited Liability Partnership, a firm established by Mr Wilson in 2007 to provide specialist law administration support.
Mr Wilson was disqualified for seven years under Section 6 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act and told to pay the costs of the claimant, amounting to £41,000, with an interim payment of £20,000 due by 4pm on November 7.
In disqualifying Mr Wilson, Judge Roger Kaye QC said: “Mr Wilson’s conduct shows incompetence in a marked degree and falls far short of the standards to be expected and encouraged.
“I do not say he was dishonest or lacked probity. What he lacked was the ability to appreciate his own actions might be wrong, or to take responsibility for his own decisions, instead seeking, unjustifiably, to cast blame on almost everyone with whom he came into contact.”
HMRC presented a winding up petition against Lawyours LLP on March 12, 2010, in respect of PAYE and NI contributions totalling £605,517. Lawyours LLP was officially wound up on June 23, 2010.
Commenting on the disqualification, John Curbison, the Official Receiver responsible for the investigation, said: “In this matter, the Court found that Mr Wilson caused his company to fail to meet its statutory obligations in regards to its tax affairs, resulting in lost tax revenue which otherwise could have been used for public services.”
He said Mr Wilson compounded his actions by entering into a transaction for the benefit of his associated business at a time Lawyours was under threat of winding up by HMRC.
Mr Wilson confirmed that he would now be stepping down as one of Law Offices UK’s three directors, but stated he would continue in his role as a solicitor, adamant that the ruling would not have any adverse effects on the day-to-day running of the business, based on Town Street in Farsley.
“Regarding the judgment I am pleased that it vindicates my stance that I did not act dishonestly or lack probity,” he said.
“It is my opinion that the company, like many other companies at that time, was sacrificed when the now state-owned banks were in financial turmoil and they mercilessly cancelled pre-arranged overdraft facilities.
“I would like to reiterate that this was a completely separate business to the firm of solicitors with which my name is associated.”
The disqualification states that Mr Wilson can now no longer take part in the promotion, formation or management of any business, be a liquidator or administrator, or be the receiver or manager of a company’s property. His associated business, Wilsons Solicitors (2007) LLP, was wound up in the High Court of Justice earlier this week following a petition by HMRC for outstanding taxes.