Lake Bushells & Co

This site details my allegations of negligence against partners Michael Lake and Richard Francis of Chartered Accountants, Lake Bushells (now LB Group Ltd) of 82C East Hill, Colchester, Essex. The firm also has offices in Chelmsford and Walthamstow. The allegations extend to a previous partner of the firm, Barry Woodward, who was made bankrupt and lost his licence to act as a Chartered Accountant.

I allege that due to negligent and incompetent handling of my affairs by Lake, Francis and Woodward, I became liable to Inland Revenue interest charges of more than £150,000 (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pounds) on an outstanding Capital Gains tax debt. I totally unaware that any substantial tax liability was outstanding, much less that interest was accumulating.

Having investigated the case thoroughly, I made formal complaint to The Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA). On 2nd July 2002, the Investigation Committee of the ICA determined that a prima facie case had been established against Lake and Francis and that disciplinary action was appropriate. Lake and Francis were reprimanded and fined by the ICAEW. Press releases and details of the ICAEW findings are available on the ICAEW Complaint page.

I had intended to take legal proceeding against Lake Bushells and those concerned. My evidence comprises over 400 pages of evidence. My QC's formal Opinion states that Lake Bushells were clearly negligent in dealing with my affairs and that some aspects of their handling amounted to malpractice.

Lake Bushells protracted handling of the case took nearly ten years. During that time, Lake Bushells corporate structure changed several times, finally adopting limited corporation status to protect the partners. Lake's previous partners were both declared bankrupt. Michael Lake himself avoided the same fate by the skin of his teeth, but was subject to an Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA No: 44621 30/4/99).

The financial status of those involved and the different corporate structures of Lake Bushells over the period of the case complicated any legal challenge. Any judgement awarded by the courts would be difficult, if not impossible, to recover given the dire financial status of those involved. Key 800 Ltd, trading as Lake Bushells, denied having any run off insurance in respect of the original partnership. Despite the strength of my case, I was forced to conclude that the complexity and cost of legal proceedings did not make economical sense.

Details of this case are available on request. The ICAEW Complaint page details my complaint and dealings with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, and Findings & Conclusion details the findings of that organisation.

Obviously, Lake Bushells no longer act for me. I admit that the case has also left me with deep contempt for accountants in general and Chartered Accountants in particular. Despite the overwhelming evidence of Lake Bushells incompetence and negligence, the Institute of Chartered Accountants has done little more than give the partners concerned a slap on the wrist. Readers must form their own conclusions from the facts detailed here, but are welcome to contact me for further information and proof of my claims.

The information contained on this document may not be reproduced, copied or distributed in part or in whole without the express knowledge and consent of the author.

Introduction  Lake Bushells  Cooper Hathaway

Copyright © 2003 Stephen M.Wooler

Last modified: September 02, 2004