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15.04.19

‘Dishonest’ solicitor struck off for overcharging NHS with ‘unreasonable’ clinical negligence bills

A “dishonest” solicitor who overcharged the NHS whilst pursuing clinical negligence cases has been struck off after the High Court judged he had showed a “serious lack of integrity.”

Andrew Good, who founded the Hull law firm Rapid Response, charged £400 an hour to represent patients suing the NHS and produced bills that were “unreasonable and disproportionate.”

NHS Resolution reported its concerns around excessive charging behaviour to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in 2013, and Good was fined £30,000 for his “grossly excessive” fees and for a breach of “public trust.”

Now High Court judge Lord Justice Flaux has overturned the previous ruling and fine, and ruled that the solicitor should be struck off the Roll of Solicitors.

More than 150 cases involving Good’s firm were analysed, and despite the panel finding that “most of the work” carried out by Rapid Response should have been billed between £111 and £146 per hour, the firm charged up to £400.

NHS Resolution, the arms-length body which manages the health service’s costs and disputes, “fiercely contested” the bills on behalf of the NHS and escalated the matter to the regulator to intervene.

The tribunal rejected Good’s various explanations for the rates, and found that charging at £400 an hour, a rate that was almost four times that which would be charged for a Grade D fee earner under the guideline rates was “grossly excessive.”

Lord Justice Flaux ruled: “Even if Mr Good had a genuine belief that he was entitled to charge these rates, it is difficult to see how that could exonerate him from a finding of dishonesty.

“In rendering the bills which he knew to be excessive or grossly excessive and artificially high, Mr Good was dishonest in the first place.

“I do not consider that the public would regard it as acceptable that someone who breached that trust in the way in which Mr Good did should be allowed to act as solicitor.”

Helen Vernon, chief executive of NHS Resolution, said: “We welcome the court’s judgment. NHS Resolution will not hesitate to take action where it is confronted with dishonest behaviour.

“This is public money and Mr Good’s actions were an attempt on funds which should be used for patient care.”

Image credit - BrasilNut1

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