SDT: Andrew Jonathan Crossley
- Application 10726-2011
- Admitted 1991
- Hearing 16 January 2012
- Reasons 6 February 2012
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice as a solicitor for two years to commence on the 16 January 2012.
In breach of rule 1.03 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007, the respondent had allowed his independence to be compromised; in breach of rule 1.04 of the code, he had acted contrary to the best interests of his clients; in breach of rule 1.06 of the code, he had acted in a way that was likely to diminish the trust the public placed in him or in the legal profession; in breach of rule 2.04(1) of the code, he had entered into arrangements to receive contingency fees for work done in prosecuting or defending contentious proceedings before the courts of England and Wales except as permitted by statute or the common law; in breach of rule 3.01 of the code, he had acted where there was a conflict of interest in circumstances not permitted under the rules, in particular because there was a conflict or significant risk that the respondent's interests were in conflict with those of his clients; in breach of rule 10.01 of the code, the respondent had used his position as a solicitor to take or attempt to take unfair advantage of other persons, being recipients of letters of claim either for his own benefit or the benefit of his clients; and in breach of rule 1.06 and 5.01(1)(g) of the code, he had failed to take adequate steps to ensure that appropriate technical and organisational safeguards were in place at his firm to protect against the accidental loss of personal data and documents.
The SDT said that it was clear that with the benefit of hindsight, the respondent might have wished that he had never touched the work in question. The SDT gave the respondent credit for making admissions in relation to six of the seven allegations that were outstanding against him. The respondent had known at the time that he had taken on the work that there were outstanding concerns in relation to the type of work and the way in which it was being carried out.
In addition, there were a number of factors which had aggravated the gravity of the allegations against the respondent. He had written over 20,000 letters to unrepresented members of the public. While the respondent had told the SDT that his firm had responded to every letter sent by an individual, the SDT did not feel that the evidence supported that statement.
Many members of the public had suffered severe stress and anxiety when they had received letters from the respondent. It was the respondent’s third visit to the SDT. Perhaps of greater significance in relation to the protection of the public was the fact that within a few days of starting the work in question, the respondent had been asked whether he was prepared to consider discontinuing the work but had declined to do so. In order adequately to protect the public and due to the serious nature of the allegations against him, a penalty of suspension was merited.
The SDT decided that the respondent should be suspended for a period of two years and so ordered. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £76,326.