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Collier Law : Probate Solicitor who took money from estates by raising false bills struck off
This case demonstrates the importance of ensuring that in all cases - not just probate - the solicitor actually delivers a bill in compliance with the Solicitors Act, which should set out the amount charged and how it is calculated. If monies are deducted without a formal bill, the client is left with no opportunity to check for this sort of dishonesty (which is thankfully rare), or for accidental errors or overcharging.Mark Carlisle, Director, Checkmylegalfees.com
Michael David Collier, who qualified in 1994, operated as a sole practitioner at Collier Law in York from 2005.
By an Order of 17th May 2019 he was struck off following admissions of improper transfers from the firm's client account to its office account, use of those funds for his own business and / or personal purposes, and acted dishonestly in representations made when investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Collier raised interim bills on probate files and transferred the sums to the office account to alleviate his own financial difficulties. The bills had not been delivered to the clients, because Collier had not in fact carried out the legal work which the entries in the client ledger purported to represent. In some case the clients had never been told of the transfers and in some cases Collier had manipulated the Estate Accounts in order to disguise the transfers.
A full copy of the decision is available below.