Bunhill: Caricature true to type

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THE CARTOON below adorns the back cover of The Official Lawyers Handbook*, a jokey guide to the sleazy world of the solicitor full of sage advice on such weighty matters as, 'The creative art of billing: Who says there are only twenty-four hours in the day?'

But the cartoon seems to be no more than the literal truth, for only a couple of dozen lawyers attended yesterday's conference on protecting investors organised by the Association of Investors.

The association was set up last year by a chartered accountant, Tony Micklethwait, after a friend had lost pounds 50,000 from an adviser supposedly supervised by Fimbra.

Micklethwait's association includes the half-dozen or so public-spirited firms of solicitors, which specialise in the time-consuming and usually unremunerative job of tackling incompetent (or fraudulent) advisers.

Most of their work is concentrated on the 20,000 or so elderly victims of Home Income Schemes linked to insurance bonds - schemes that never produced enough income to cover the cost of remortgaging the home involved.

And, for all the lack of co- operation from most firms of lawyers, Micklethwait's small band has secured some notable scalps, mostly of investment advisers which had slipped through Fimbra's seemingly well-holed net.

*Available from Harriman House, 9 Irene Road, London SW6 4AL.