Solicitor pleads 'inexperience' in £49M fraud trial

Solicitor pleads 'inexperience' in £49M fraud trial


A solicitor accused of involvement in a £49 million mortgage fraud blames his “lack of experience and understanding of conveyancing” for failing to notice and therefore prevent the crime, according to the FT Adviser.

49-year-old Laurence Ferrigan is one of six solicitors accused of helping criminals in a series of six fraudulent commercial property deals.

Mr Ferrigan – a former partner of London-based The CFB Partnership – had a background in personal injury litigation and told Southwark Crown Court that he only turned to conveyancing when his firm needed to “boost income and find new sources of work”.

Fraser Sinclair, Partner at Pure Law LLP, commented: “Unfortunately, as a result of the recent troubles in the economy, I would suspect that cases such as this are not isolated and that there are other firms that have expanded their practice areas in order to maintain fee income. However, a solicitor should have the requisite experience in order to deal with the subject matter at hand and most solicitors will decline instructions outside their experience and hopefully point the client in the direction of a solicitor that can assist.

“You will find that most solicitors will have a working knowledge of other areas of law as they apply to their own specialities. For example, a property lawyer will often have a working knowledge of certain areas of tax or estate laws but this does not mean that they will advise on obtaining probate or relating to complicated tax planning strategies.”


The investigation into the complex case, which included six former solicitors, a property developer and a surveyor, began over four years ago and was referred to the Serious Fraud Office by West Midlands Police in March 2006, following a complaint by the Cheshire Building Society.

The case relates to a mortgage on the Concentric Works in Priory Rd, Aston, Birmingham between May, 2004 and October, 2005 and another for Tattersett Business Park in Fakenham, Norfolk, between April 2004 and September 2005.

On December 18 2009, it was alleged that that six of the defendants participated in a series of frauds whereby they dishonestly obtained loans from banks or building societies that were secured on six commercial investment properties.

Each property was transferred between companies controlled by one of the defendants and his associates at highly inflated prices in a series of back-to-back transactions. On the basis of the grossly inflated prices, fraudulent valuations and forged leases, the defendants applied for and obtained mortgage advances totaling nearly £50 million. 


The mortgages were quickly defaulted on and the lenders suffered significant losses. At the the time the six involved held the following positions: McGarry was a chartered surveyor at Dunlop Haywards Lorenz; Fatema Patwa was the sole principal of her own firm, Patwa Solicitors, based in Birmingham. Hardeep Sodhi was a solicitor employed at Patwa Solicitors in Birmingham. Laurence Ferrigan was a partner at The CFB Partnership, Wanstead, East London. Saghir Afzal was a company director and property owner. Simon Lawrence was a partner of Darlingtons Solicitors in, Edgware.


In court, Mr Ferrigan, Fatema Patwa, Hardeep Sodhi, Simon Lawrence, Kamram Malik and Mark Knights all pleaded not guilty.

None of the firms are implicated and the trial is ongoing.  



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    Yes, correctly.

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