A Well-known Leeds solicitor has been banned from acting as a company director after failing to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds in tax.
John Wilson, founder and head of Wilson’s Solicitors, was disqualified for seven years following a High Court hearing in Leeds, after racking up a £600,000 unpaid bill.
In reaching a decision trial judge His Honour Judge 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, as previously described, 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.”
The case followed an investigation by the Insolvency Service and related to the Lawyours Limited Liability Partnership, a firm established by Mr Wilson in 2007 to provide law administration support.
Lawyours, which had branches throughout West Yorkshire, including Leeds and Bradford, was wound up in June 2010 over tax arrears.
The court found the billing between the company and Mr Wilson’s legal firm was “not at all efficient”, leaving Lawyours insufficient income to meet its tax bill.
At the same time as the tax bill was increasing, the company continued to pay staff, accommodation and equipment costs on behalf of Mr Wilson’s associated law firm.
John Curbison, the Official Receiver responsible for the investigation, said: “The Insolvency Service takes tax offences by companies very seriously and will investigate cases where there is evidence of wrong doing by a company director.”
Mr Wilson’s disqualification, which started immediately, prevents him from being a director of a company, without the permission of the court until 2020.
Mr Wilson confirmed that he would step down as one of Law Offices UK’s three directors.
But he intends to continue in his role as a solicitor and insists the ruling will not affect the day-to-day running of his Wilson’s Solicitors, based on Town Street in Farsley.
In a statement, he blamed his bank for withdrawing Lawyours’s overdraft facilities, meaning he was faced with having to pay tax out of his own pocket.
He added: “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. If that had not happened, the company might be trading successfully today.”