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"Most audited solicitor" loses review

22 June 2010

Yvonne Hossack, the solicitor campaigning against the closure of care homes, has lost her judicial review against the Legal Services Commission, leaving her with a £9,000 costs bill.

The LSC had asked the sole practitioner to hand over files as part of an audit of her work. Hossack refused because, she said, the files concerned large multi-party applications that were still in progress.

She also questioned why the LSC had made three such requests since the first one in June 2009.

“I made a freedom of information request about how many firms had been audited three times from 2004,” she said. “There were 35, all doing crime or immigration work. I must be the most audited solicitor in England and Wales.”

To make matters worse, during a random check across over 2,000 files, the auditors pulled out the one client who had complained to the LSC, adding to concerns that Hossack is not giving the LSC value for money.

She started her judicial review when informed by the commission that she could have her contract suspended, or even terminated, if she failed to supply the requested files, and that an internal appeal would not stay the decision.

“I looked at ways I could challenge the decision but an appeal doesn’t give you a stay,” she said about her first application. “So I decided to litigate. Mr Justice Parker said I was ‘prevaricating’ and ordered me to pay £4,500 costs.”

The costs in this second case, Hossack v Legal Services Commission [2010] EWHC 1457 Admin, bring Hossack’s bill to just under £9,000.

The Kettering solicitor told the judge, Mr Justice Owen: “Every penny you take from me you are taking from them [care home residents].”

His reply, according to Hossack, was that she should have thought about this before embarking on litigation.

The Kettering solicitor has so far escaped a restraint order, as sought by the LSC, but the judge has asked the parties to make submissions as to whether he should make one.

“There are only two precedents,” Hossack said. “In the first, the applicant had made 20 applications in the same case, and in the second, he had made seven judicial review applications. I have only made two in four years.”

Hossack said she has won two cases covered by the LSC request about the closure of homes in Barnett and Portsmouth, both involving about 250 applicants each. The cases are under appeal.

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