UK: ‘Comprehensively dishonest man’ jailed for posing as solicitor in court

The UK Law Society Gazette..

Abogus solicitor who represented a company in court despite having no qualifications has been jailed by a judge who called him a ‘comprehensively dishonest man’.

Judge Jeremy Richardson KC told Sheffield Crown Court (pictured) that Richard Lipscombe’s offending was ‘one of the most serious examples that has come before the courts of a bogus solicitor’.

Lipscombe, 47, represented building company Build Team Holborn at a hearing at the Mayor’s and City of London Court in May 2016 during a period in which he was undertaking in-house legal work for the firm, despite being unqualified.

The court heard on Thursday how Lipscombe, who has a previous conviction for forging a document to get a bank card, had only just been barred from working for any legal firm in any capacity when he started this role.

This related to when he previously worked as a paralegal for a respected solicitors’ firm and he acted for a client without their knowledge or consent.

Jailing Lipscombe for 10 months, Judge Richardson told him: ‘You are a comprehensively dishonest man.’

He added that the defendant was ‘unhampered by any scruples and displaying a complete contempt for the rule of law’.

The judge said: ‘You purported to be a solicitor, representing a company in litigation before a court when you were nothing of the kind.

‘At no stage have you ever been a solicitor and have no qualifications to be a solicitor.’

The judge said: ‘The general public repose considerable confidence in the solicitors’ profession.’

And he added: ‘Any erosion of that confidence is a serious matter.’

Judge Richardson said: ‘A court was misled that you were a solicitor. That is a very serious aspect of this case.’

Lipscombe, who lives in Sheffield, admitted a charge of acting as a solicitor while unqualified and another of carrying out a reserved legal activity when not entitled.

The judge said he took into account that the defendant is suffering from a serious medical condition that requires surgery and cares for his elderly mother.

He said he believed the defendant should be liable for the full £78,800 it cost the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) to mount the prosecution, but he was told by Francis Edusei, defending, that Lipscombe is effectively penniless.

Judge Richardson ordered Lipscombe to pay £20,000 towards the costs over the next two years.

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