Disgraced former solicitor Phil Shiner has been declared bankrupt – potentially leaving the legal profession facing a huge bill for his prosecution.
Shiner, a director at Birmingham firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), was recorded as bankrupt this week on the Individual Insolvency Register.
A further notice placed on the Companies House website this week confirms that PIL is now subject to a compulsory strike-off and will be dissolved by the middle of May. The firm shut down last August after the Legal Aid Agency cancelled contracts with it.
Shiner was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal last month after being found guilty of dishonesty and a lack of integrity over the way claims against British armed forces were obtained and handled.
The Legal Aid Agency is reported to have paid PIL £3m in the last 10 years and said after the SDT hearing it would take steps to recover any public money obtained ‘inappropriately’.
Shiner’s bankruptcy raises the strong likelihood the legal profession will end up paying for much of the cost of prosecuting him.
The campaigner was ordered to pay £250,000 as an interim costs order to cover Solicitors Regulation Authority costs, but the eventual bill is expected to be much greater.
By 22 November last year – before the last case management conference and final hearing – the SRA had spent £476,795 in costs, including £94,000 to pay for the investigation and £134,000 paid to external London firm Russell-Cooke.
Shiner was not represented at his final tribunal hearing and said he could afford to pay for legal representation only up to and including the final case management hearing.
The SRA will join the list of creditors and is unlikely to recover its costs for the Shiner prosecution in full.
Accounts for PIL, filed in December 2015 and related to the company’s finances as at March 2015, show it had fixed assets worth £1.1m and current assets (through debtors and cash at the bank and in hand) of £422,237.