Law firm boss suspended for repeatedly shouting "f**k off" at mediation
28 July 2017
A solicitor has been suspended for three months and fined £20,000 for a string of professional disgraces.
Michael Horne attracted the complaints while running his Hereford-based firm Kidwells which he set up in 2008 after qualifying as a solicitor in 2006. Horne, whose previous career was as a 'businessman', has previously attracted positive press attention for flying around in a helicopter and talking up
a gym and massage centre he planned to build alongside his firm's offices. He is less keen to address allegations that in the 1990s he was convicted of benefit fraud and served time for stealing motor boats, failing to respond to requests for comment from RollOnFriday.
In one incident considered by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, a solicitor named as 'Ms FS' resigned as a consultant for Kidwells to work for a rival firm and claimed £341 from Horne in unpaid fees. Horne sued her for £15,000 which he accused her of losing the firm by mishandling matters.
||Partridge-like Horne really posed mansplaining to five women and really published that waffling chaff.
Horne admitted in his witness statement at the original court case, "I was prepared to just move on but warned her that if she pressed for payment then I would raise the counterclaim as I have done
". Throwing out Horne's counterclaim, the judge ruled that it was "devoid of merit
" and had been conducted "out of spite
" at the rival firm and Ms FS. He said Horne had conducted himself in "an astounding way
" (not in a good sense) and produced an "amazing
" pleading (not in a good sense). He also said Horne's defence to Ms FS's claim was "hopeless
" and "defied logic
Horne was also prosecuted by the SRA in respect of his behaviour at an abortive mediation with Ms FS. Her solicitor at the time, Richard Morgan, said that during Horne's opening address he called Morgan, "either a smug bastard or a pompous bastard, I cannot now be sure which
". Morgan said, "I then must have said something to provoke him, as he shouted 'fuck off' at me once or twice from where he stood on the opposite end of the long conference table
". Morgan replied, "you make me ashamed to be a solicitor
", to which Horne "shouted 'fuck off' one or two times more as he advanced
". Morgan thought Horne was going to hit him until the mediator intervened and Horne stormed out, slamming the door. Morgan said, "I could hear Mr Horne shouting through the ceiling, however I could not make out the exact words
In yet another matter, Horne "hounded
" a married couple who were ex-clients for payment of a disputed £49,000 invoice, telling them "your current course of conduct will end in your bankruptcy and you will lose everything
". The tribunal noted that Horne "sent yet another warning email
" just seven minutes after being told that the wife had called the Samaritans in despair. After they paid up he was found to have improperly overcharged them.
The SDT ruled that Horne had committed multiple breaches of the SRA principles to uphold the rule of law and behave in a manner maintaining the public's trust, and that he had lacked integrity. It said that his behaviour at the mediation was "unpleasant and abusive
", while his emails were "bullying"
and "shabby and unprofessional
". The tribunal said that a "severe sanction
" was required to send "a clear message
" to the profession, even though Horne's offences did not reach the "top level
" of seriousness. It suspended him for three months, fined him £20,000 and ordered him to pay costs of £40,000.