SDT: Rosemary Anne Akinyi Okeno and Martyns Gogo Martyns
- Application 10524-2010
- Admitted 2005
- Hearing 23 January 2012
- Reasons 3 February 2012
By a decision of the SDT on 6 September 2011, the case of the second respondent was ordered to be severed from the case of the first respondent.
All the allegations against the second respondent were also brought against the first respondent. There were no allegations which were brought against the second respondent alone. The SDT ordered that the second respondent should pay a fine of £2,500. The second respondent had withdrawn monies from client account other than as permitted by rule 22 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998; he had dealt with monies as costs without sending a bill of costs or other written notification of costs incurred to the client or the paying party, contrary to rule 19.2 of the rules; he had improperly held office monies in a client account, contrary to rules 15 and 19(3) of the rules; and he had failed to remedy breaches of the rules promptly upon discovery, contrary to rule 7 thereof.
All the allegations brought against the second respondent had been found proved on a strict liability basis. While the SDT appreciated the difficult situation in which the respondent had testified that he had found himself, he should have taken an interest in the accounts and financial arrangements of the firm because of the strict liability obligations to which he was subject. This applied regardless of whether he was a salaried or an equity partner.
The SDT had noted that the second respondent had given two examples of where he had taken action; in arranging for the personal bank account to be disconnected from office account and in authorising payment to the mortgagee when he realised that the redemption monies had been outstanding for some time, albeit that he had done that in a problematic way. The SDT wished to take the opportunity to emphasise the vulnerable position of partners in firms regardless of their status and how important it was for them to ensure compliance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998.
The SDT had considered whether a reprimand would be adequate as the degree of culpability attributable to the second respondent was fairly low, however compliance with the rules was vitally important and the second respondent had allowed himself to continue in a situation with regard to the accounts which was clearly incompatible with his responsibilities as a partner. The fact that he had accepted the situation contributed to his culpability. The SDT had decided that a fine would be appropriate. It had some sympathy with the second respondent.
A fine of £2,500 was imposed. The second respondent was ordered to pay costs of £3,250.