Updated: 12/02/13 : 07:12:03
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Leitrim Solicitor Suspended Over VAT Non-Payment

A solicitor who did not pay VAT on his professional services for four years has been suspended from practice by the High Court.

According to the Irish Times, Michael Crawford of Michael Crawford and Co, Lurganboy, Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, failed to prepare accounts or submit tax returns from 2008 to 2011, a Law Society investigation found.

Damien Colton, an accountant in the society’s regulation department, also found a number of other deficiencies in Mr Crawford’s practice, including a failure to stamp and register deeds from property sales and failure to maintain a register of undertakings given to banks in conveyancing matters.

Fergus O’Hagan SC, for Mr Crawford, yesterday urged the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, not to suspend his client but rather allow him more time to clear up the “administrative shambles” in his practice.

His client was prepared to retire but needed time to rectify his difficulties and had received the assistance of three other solicitors in doing so.

Mr Crawford was prepared to pay the VAT from his own resources. There had also been no claim so far on the Law Society’s compensation fund, he added.

Mr Justice Kearns said a failure to suspend Mr Crawford would send out the wrong message and would undermine the need for rigorous accounting by the legal profession.