Stratford lawyer struck off

A SOLICITOR from Stratford has been struck off after he pocketed almost �3,000 when he was overpaid for court costs.

David Laryea, 41, had billed his client for a total of �5,700 for a criminal case which the customer won, the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal heard.

Laryea was paid �8,781 by the court and even demanded payment for VAT when his firm was not registered to collect the tax.

The money was kept by his firm and Laryea later claimed the money had gone on additional expenses.

“It is clear from the way the bill is drawn up that is not true,” said Margaret Bromley for the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority.

Investigators raided the Marshall and Mason in the firm Laryea ran with colleague Endy Okoye, 43, at The Broadway, Stratford, in March 2008.

The books of the firm were in complete disarray — there were no entries at all for the month of April 2008 when the bank records showed �5.5 million had gone through the firm’s accounts.

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Money had been transferred “in error” and wrongly taken from individual client’s accounts.

The firm was in such chaos that the Law Society took over the company and suspended the solicitors.

The pair also failed to pay �1,017 compensation to a client and ignored letters from their governing body.

When Laryea was trying to come to an arrangement with his creditors he claimed he was still working as a solicitor when he was suspended.

Miss Bromley said: “These are serious matters covering both the solicitors’ accounts rules and the professional code of conduct.

“The respondents have failed to exercise proper stewardship of client’s funds.

“They do not seem to have understood there responsibility under the accounts rules.”

The two men did not attend the hearing but were found guilty of a serious of allegations including breach of the accounts rules, submitting excessive costs and failing to disclose the facts to mortgage lenders.

Laryea alone was found guilty of practising without a proper certificate.

Tribunal chairman Laurence Gifford struck both men off without comment.

They were also ordered to pay costs of �40,000 between them.