11 October 2018

The Managing Partner of a firm that was compulsorily wound-up is defending himself against accusations of file fabrication.

The SRA shut down mental health firm Blavo & Co in October 2015. The regulator acted after the Legal Aid Agency, from which Blavo received the bulk of its work, had terminated all its contracts following "significant concerns" of fraud. 

The LAA launched an investigation in 2015, and in 144 cases randomly selected by the agency for closer examination, the relevant NHS trusts had no record of Blavo & Co clients being patients in 98 of them. In one instance the hospital in question did not even have a mental health unit, and in another it had shut down eight years ago. And then burnt down.

The Lord Chancellor has now brought an action in the High Court against John Blavo, who was the sole director of the firm. According to the LAA's calculations, Blavo & Co submitted claims on over 23,000 cases for fabricated work, totalling £22 million*.

In the Royal Courts of Justice this week, counsel for the Lord Chancellor, Rachel Sleeman, said that files for two mental patients were "pretty much identical". Sleeman questioned a former Blavo & Co partner, Lee-Ann Frampton-Anderson, as to whether one of the files "might not be genuine". Frampton-Anderson agreed that the information was very similar, but said that "filing errors do happen". Under cross-examination, Frampton-Anderson also said that some files might not have had the correct name for patients, as some individuals wanted to "forget their identity" and used a different name. 

An LAA investigator also told the court that Blavo & Co claimed that it was burgled in August 2015, a few weeks after the LAA had informed the firm that it would be investigated. Robert Bourne, counsel for John Blavo, asked the investigator if there was any reason to suggest that the burglary "did not take place". He also asked if the investigator had visited the premises after the burglary; the investigator replied that he had not.

Jonny Bravo
Definitely not Johnny Blavo

 

Bourne told the court that John Blavo would not be called to give evidence.

 

 

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Comments

Money tree 12 Oct 18

Can’t wait to see the SRA  costs - probably over £22m by now, we all know how frugal they are

Anonymous 18 Oct 18

How to (not) win friends and raise your partner compensation 1. Start to talking to all competitor firms. The news will leak back to your firm 2. Your firm starts to panic. Gives you bonus points. 3. Start to download your firm's precedents. Your firm panics again. Sits you down. You tell them, no, you are not leaving 4. A short while later, contradicting 3, you tender your resignation. The firm panics yet again, management talks to you again, gives you assurances of your worth. 5. Again, a short while later, you confirm you do want to tender. Some Management fly across continents, to counter offer the competitors offer, taking you to the top of the league. 6. You insist you will not retract. Firm panics even more. Management and others spend hours on the phone with you. Rumours run rife.  Partners and lawyers in the know about the bonus points, precedent download, and counter offer, are outraged. Smaller pie, for everyone else, who contribute just as much. But management soldiers on. Both lawyer, and responsible management, should go.    

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