SDT: Richard Francis Antony Page-Jones
- Application 10828-2011
- Admitted 1965
- Hearing 21 February 2012
- Reasons 26 March 2012
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice as a solicitor for six months to commence on 21 February 2012.
Upon the expiry of the fixed term of suspension, the SDT ordered that if the respondent applied for a practising certificate in the future, he should only be allowed to practise as an employee in employment approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and that there should be liberty to either party to apply to the SDT to vary the condition set out above.
The respondent had failed to pay the premium due for indemnity insurance for the indemnity year 2010/2011 to Capita (which manages the assigned risks pool on behalf of the SRA) within the prescribed period for payment and was in policy default in breach of rule 16.2 of the Solicitors Indemnity Insurance Rules 2010; and he had failed to respond to the SRA’s enquiries in an open, prompt and co-operative way in breach of rule 20.05 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007.
The SDT said that the present case was a sad one. The respondent had clearly had a successful career and his practice had declined due to a combination of the recession and his wife passing away. The SDT noted that the respondent had practised for a long time without any problems at all and that it was a shame that he had ended up before the SDT on the present occasion. However, the SDT had to consider what was in the best interests of the public and the protection of the reputation of the profession.
The SDT noted that the respondent had made no efforts at all to repay the ARP premium, and it was further concerned that he was continuing to practise at the moment, in that he still appeared to hold client funds. Furthermore, the respondent did not have any current professional indemnity insurance in place at all and therefore there was clearly a risk to the public if he were allowed to continue to practise.
The SDT therefore ordered that the respondent be suspended for a period of six months. The SDT further ordered that upon expiry of that period of suspension, if the respondent applied for a practising certificate in the future, he should only be allowed to practise as an employee in employment approved by the SRA. The SDT granted leave to both parties to apply to vary that condition in the future.
The SDT also made it clear that it expected the SRA to assist the respondent as much as possible to wind down his practice, preferably without the need for an intervention, while ensuring any remaining client interests were properly safeguarded. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £2,200.