Dodgy Solicitor overcharged by 870%
28 October 2016
The newest Dodgy Solicitor overcharged a client by more than 800% and drew up a fake ledger to fool the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Charles Rhodes, the senior partner of Rotherham firm Gichard & Co, was acting as an executor of a deceased man's estate when the grandson, a beneficiary, began to suspect that the 17 bills Rhodes had sent didn't reflect what he was actually charging. When the SRA came knocking, Rhodes showed investigators a spreadsheet which supported his total costs of £170,250. However, when they checked with the firm's cashier, they discovered that he had actually taken £437,125.
In another case the probate lawyer was found to have gouged £37,906 in costs from an estate worth £83,000. There were no complicating factors to justify charging 45% of its value, and a costs lawyer estimated that a reasonable fee would have been £3,450. Equating to a punchy 870% markup by Rhodes. Found to have overcharged by 267% in a third matter, he admitted to the SRA that he had "over-egged it
Rhodes, whose 125-year-old firm was shut down as a result of his mercenary billing practices, was charged with multiple dishonesty offences at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Representing himself, he confessed that he "panicked
" and that the spreadsheet was a "work of fiction
" he had spent three days preparing. But he maintained that although he he had been "manifestly stupid
", he was "a fool not a knave
" and innocent of dishonesty. Despite also arguing that he was under pressure "at the time
" (quite a long time given that the offences were committed over a ten year period), Rhodes was found guilty on all counts
and struck off.