SDT: Newford Eustace Shillingford and Isaac Newton Patrice Carter
- Application 10714-2011
- Hearing 8 February 2012
- Reasons 6 March 2012
The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1993) should be suspended from practice as a solicitor for an indefinite period to commence on 8 February 2012; and that the second respondent (admitted 1990) should pay a fine of £3,000.
The first respondent had, contrary to rule 1.01 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007, failed to act with integrity, in that on 19 March 2009 he wrote to Halliwells Solicitors to represent that he had received instructions not to pay over a stated sum of money, whereas he had in fact never been in possession of the money in the first place, thereby rendering his letter misleading; contrary to rule 10.05 of the code the first and second respondents had failed to fulfil an undertaking; the first respondent had withdrawn money from client account in circumstances other than permitted by rule 22 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998 and had thereby created a cash shortage; in breach of rule 7 of the rules, the first respondent had failed to remedy breaches promptly on discovery; contrary to the Solicitors Indemnity Insurance Rules 2009, the first respondent had failed to pay professional indemnity insurance premiums; the first respondent had failed to deliver his accountant’s report for the period ended 28 February 2009, due by the 31 August 2009; the first respondent had failed to deliver his accountant’s reports for the following periods: year ended 28 February 2010, six months ended 31 August 2010, six months ended 28 February 2011; contrary to 20.05 of the code, the first respondent had failed to deal with the Solicitors Regulation Authority in an open prompt and co-operative manner; and contrary to rule 20.03 of the code the first respondent had practised as a sole practitioner when he was not authorised to do so.
The first respondent had faced a greater number of allegations and had been more culpable than the second respondent. The allegations were serious and in all the circumstances the SDT considered that the appropriate order was an indefinite suspension.
The SDT did not wish to fetter the discretion of any future SDT, but recommended that any application made by the first respondent for a termination of the indefinite period of suspension should not be granted until he had filed all outstanding accountants’ reports, including a cease to hold report if appropriate, or unless the requirement to file the reports had been waived by the SRA.
In any event, the SDT recommended that the term of indefinite suspension should not be terminated before the expiry of a period of 12 months. The second respondent had signed the letter containing the undertaking and was liable. He had been foolish and should not have done so. He had relied on the first respondent which had been acknowledged. The second respondent did not stand to gain anything from giving the undertaking but the SDT could not ignore the fact that others had relied on it. The SDT noted that the second respondent had appeared at the SDT before.
In all the circumstances, the SDT considered that the appropriate sanction was that the second respondent should pay a fine of £3,000. The first respondent was ordered to pay costs of £13,000. The second respondent was ordered to pay costs of £12,695.