Bankrupt lawyer determined to practise again
A Bermudian lawyer has blamed his bankruptcy on unpaid client bills of more than $1.5 million.
Rick Woolridge said yesterday: “I’ve got $1.7 million worth of receivables in the street.
Mr Woolridge explained: “I’m in the process now of suing people that owe me money.”
He added: “I’ve got just over $100,000 in judgments so far, and I will continue.”
Mr Woolridge said “hundreds” of clients owed him cash for legal services.
He added: “Once I get the money owed to me, I will then be able to pay my bills.
“I will get out of this; and I’ll get out of it shortly.”
Mr Woolridge was speaking after a bankruptcy order was made against him by Chief Justice Narinder Hargun.
The order was published in the Official Gazette last week.
The practising certificate of a barrister becomes invalid under the Bermuda Bar Act if they are declared bankrupt.
But Mr Woolridge said that he would apply for a temporary certificate.
He added: “I’m trying to get clarification on the process.”
Mr Woolridge said that he had earlier hired a debt collection agency to try to get money he was owed.
He added: “They had my accounts for a couple of years and couldn’t collect a thing.” Mr Woolridge said he was not the only lawyer who had faced problems because of unpaid bills and that the bankruptcy had been sparked by action taken by Linda Swan, who had been a client.
He added: “I just happen to have a particular creditor that brought the action against me. I wasn’t paying her back in time.”
He was ordered to repay Ms Swan after the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that he had overcharged her by more than $60,000.
Ms Swan complained that Mr Woolridge had billed her at 5 per cent interest a month instead of per year.
Mr Woolridge argued at the time that he and Ms Swan had agreed to the higher interest rate and that she still owed him more that $24,000.
Ian Kawaley, then the Chief Justice, ruled that Ms Swan and Mr Woolridge had never reached a binding agreement on the interest rate and awarded Ms Swan $63,498.60.
Mr Woolridge said that he could not confirm the exact amount that he paid back to Ms Swan.
He added: “Money has gotten paid into the receiver’s account and how they distribute it I don’t know.”
Mr Woolridge said the bankruptcy order was a “temporary setback”.
He added: “If push comes to extreme shove, I can practice in other jurisdictions.”
Mr Woolridge added that his intention was to continue to practise in Bermuda. He said: “This is my home.”
Mr Woolridge got a law degree at the University of Buckingham in England and completed the Bar vocational course at the Inns of Court School of Law, now called City Law School.
He was Called to the Bar of England and Wales and is a member of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn.
Mr Woolrdige was called to the Bermuda Bar in 2002.
Elizabeth Christopher, the president of the Bermuda Bar Association, could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
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