A group of charities are suing a former partner who was jailed for fraud, claiming they lost out on money that the lawyer stole from clients' estates.
Linda Box was a senior partner who stole over £4 million from her firm's clients. Her astounding greed resulted in the SRA closing Yorkshire firm Dixon Coles & Gill with the loss of all jobs.
Box stole the huge sum from 75 client files over a 12 year period, and she also used her position as registrar with the Diocese of Wakefield to rob £63,000 from the Church of England.
The dodgy solicitor used the stolen funds to fund an extravagant lifestyle which included spending £800,000 on a collection of vintage wines for her son, paying off mortgages for relatives, private school fees for her grandchild, landscaping work at her home, and luxury holidays. She also spent over £235,000 on marketing for her husband's firm of undertakers.
Box pleaded guilty and in 2017 the court jailed her for seven years, with a further eight years being added if she failed to repay £2.5 million. She was also struck off the roll of solicitors.
Box now faces fresh claims from the Guide Dogs for the Blind, Yorkshire Cancer Research, British Heart Foundation and the National Trust, who allege that Box stole money that was payable to them from the estate of one of her deceased clients: Ernest Scholefield.
British Heart Foundation versus Linda Box
The charities have also included other parties as defendants: Julian Gill (who was co-executor of Scholefield's estate); the defunct firm Dixon Coles & Gill; and the firm's professional indemnity insurer, HDI Global Speciality SE.
At a preliminary issue hearing, Judge Saffman said that Gill was unaware of Box's criminal activity and "there is no suggestion that he acted dishonestly". Gill continues to work as a solicitor in Wakefield. He has filed a defence denying liability, as has the defunct firm Dixon Coles & Gill.
The insurer has argued that Scholefield's estate did not technically suffer a loss, as Box's fraud involved "teeming and lading" which meant that any stolen money was effectively replenished in the firm's client account with other misappropriated funds.
The insurer further argues that it had already paid out its liability limit under the firm's policy of £2 million, and so the cover has been exhausted.
And Box has also incurred the wrath of the church, as the Bishop of Leeds has brought a separate claim on behalf of the Church of England and various charities, who allege they suffered significant loss caused by Box.
The hearings continue next month.