This website relates to allegations of negligence against Lake Bushells (now metamorphosed into LB Group Ltd) of 82C East Hill, Colchester, Essex, and specifically against partners Michael Lake and Richard Francis. The allegations extend to an ex-partner of the firm, Barry Woodward, who lost his licence to act as a Chartered Accountant when he was made bankrupt.
I allege that due to the incompetent and negligent handling of my affairs by Lake Bushells and the above individuals, I became liable to Inland Revenue interest charges of more than £150,000 (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pounds). I was unaware that I had any substantial tax liability, or that any liability was outstanding, overdue for payment and attracting interest.
My allegations were the subject of formal complaint to The Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA). On 2nd July 2002, the Investigation Committee of the ICA decided that a prima facie case had been established against Lake and Francis and that disciplinary action was appropriate. Both Lake and Francis, currently directors of LB Group Ltd, were reprimanded and fined by the ICAEW. Full details of the ICAEW findings and their associated press releases are available on the ICAEW Complaint page.
It had been my intention to initiate legal proceeding against Lake Bushells and the partners concerned. My evidence file, comprising three volumes and over 400 pages of evidence, was presented to a barrister for examination. The QC's formal Opinion states that Lake Bushells were clearly negligent in dealing with my affairs and that aspects of their performance amounted to malpractice.
The specific matters relating to the complaints occurred over a period of almost ten years. During this time, the corporate structure of Lake Bushells changed a number of times and the business finally adopted protection by becoming a limited company. They currently trade as LB Group Ltd. Both of Lake's previous partners were declared bankrupt and lost their licence to act as Chartered Accountants. Michael Lake narrowly avoided the same fate, but became subject to a Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA No: 44621 30/4/99). These combined factors complicated any legal challenge. It would prove very difficult to recover any judgement awarded by the courts due to the financial status of those involved. We had been unable to establish whether the original Lake Bushells partnership had any professional indemnity insurance and the current trading company denied having any run off insurance in respect of the original partnership. I was forced to conclude that despite the strength of my case, the complexity and high cost of legal proceedings did not make economical sense.
Naturally, Lake Bushells/LB Group Ltd no longer act for me. The case has left me with deep contempt for accountants in general and Chartered Accountants in particular. Despite overwhelming evidence of the incompetence and negligence of Lake Bushells, the Institute of Chartered Accountants appears unable, or unwilling, to give the individuals concerned more than a slap on the wrist. Readers must simply form their own conclusions from the facts detailed within these pages, but are welcome to for further information and proof of my claims.
11th March 2003Stephen M.Wooler
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