Rachel Sleeman and Gita Chakravarty successful in £22m claim: Lord Chancellor v Blavo & Co Solicitors Limited and John Blavo

15th January 2019

Rachel Sleeman and Gita Chakravarty represented the Lord Chancellor before Mr Justice Pepperall in a contractual claim for recovery of in excess of £22m paid to Blavo & Co. Solicitors Limited under a legal aid contract for mental health work. John Blavo was liable to the Lord Chancellor under the terms of a Guarantee and Indemnity. The case was followed closely by the legal press during trial and has since been reported in national newspapers.

Rachel previously obtained a without notice freezing injunction on behalf of the Lord Chancellor against Mr Blavo in 2015, which was continued in January 2016 by Mr Justice Garnham.

The law firm’s legal aid contract was terminated by the Legal Aid Agency in September 2015 after it was unable to provide evidence that it had represented patients at a mental health tribunal in respect of more than 23,000 cases for which it had been paid by the Legal Aid Agency.

A detailed analysis of HMRC’s records and the claims made by the law firm highlighted the discrepancies between purported hearings claimed for by the law firm and the records of hearings that had in fact taken place.

Giving judgment in the full amount claimed by the Lord Chancellor, Mr Justice Pepperall held that, “it is more likely than not that the core explanation for the discrepancies between the two databases is the systemic fraud practised by Blavo & Co.”