You are here

Retired solicitor handed 15-year bankruptcy order for misappropriating client money

The non-practising solicitor has also been charged with ten offences of fraud and one of forgery

25 June 2015

Add comment

Exeter County Court has ordered a retired solicitor be subject to a 15-year bankruptcy restriction order for misappropriating funds from his clients' accounts, overcharging clients, and falsifying records to cover up his actions.

Simon Michael Armitage's restriction follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service to whom he is bound by 2030. He cannot manage or control a limited company during this period without leave of the court.

The investigation found Armitage's misappropriations occurred over the course of four years between 2009 and 2013 while trading as Armitage & Co Solicitors.

According to Law Society records, Armitage was admitted to the roll of solicitors in November 1974 and practised in wills and probate, commercial property, and residential conveyancing.

Between July 2009 and December 2013 Armitage transferred money from his client's accounts to himself, his creditors, and other clients from whose accounts he had previously misappropriated funds.

The majority of the misappropriations occurred in probate estates and the victims were often the recently bereaved beneficiaries. Armitage falsified his ledgers and cheque books to cover his tracks.

On 21 February 2014, Armitage successfully petitioned for his own bankruptcy with total debts standing at £1.01m.

Armitage has already appeared at a preliminary hearing in Exeter Crown Court and has been charged with ten offences of fraud and one of forgery. The case has been adjourned until July 2015.

Commenting on the restriction order, Catherine Newell, assistant official receiver, said: 'Mr Armitage was in a position of trust and was relied on by his clients. The seriousness of Mr Armitage's conduct warrants the maximum restriction and sends a clear message to others in his position on the consequences for abusing such a position of trust: they will be investigated by the Insolvency Service and removed from the business environment for a significant period of time.'

This article first appeared in PCA's sister publication, Solicitors Journal

Categorised in:

Vulnerable Clients Wills, Trusts & Probate