SDT: Richard James Burley
- Application 10789-2011
- Admitted 2004
- Hearing 20 February 2012
- Reasons 21 March 2012
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
It further ordered that the directions of the adjudicators of the Legal Complaints Service contained within a schedule attached to the judgment, made in respect of inadequate professional service, should be treated for the purposes of enforcement as if they were contained in an order of the High Court, pursuant to paragraph 5(2) of schedule 1A to the Solicitors Act 1974, and that there should be liberty to apply to the applicant in relation to inadequate professional service awards made in favour of Mr JRB, Mr DR and Miss SV.
Contrary to rule 1 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007, the respondent had done things in the course of acting as a solicitor which had compromised or impaired, or had been likely to compromise or impair, his independence or integrity and/or his duty to act in the best interests of clients and/or his duty to provide a good standard of service to clients and his duty not to behave in a way that was likely to diminish the trust the public placed in him or the legal profession; he had acted and/or had continued to act in circumstances where there was a conflict and/or significant risk of a conflict between the interests of his clients and his own interests, contrary to rule 3 of the code; he had accepted introductions and referrals of business from other persons contrary to rules 9.01 and 9.02 of the code; he had failed to provide clients with the best information possible about costs, contrary to rule 2.03 of the code; he had failed to make arrangements for the effective management of the firm, contrary to rule 5.01 of the code; he had failed to comply within the stipulated timescale with an adjudicator’s directions made in respect of inadequate professional services, whereby he had been directed to pay compensation to various complainants and costs to the LCS pursuant to schedule 1A to the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended) and an order pursuant to paragraph 5(2) of the act was sought in relation to those matters where payments remained outstanding; he had dishonestly submitted a false and/or misleading application to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for approval to practise as a recognised sole practitioner at the firm of Claim Central Solicitors in the name of Joanne Joyce without her knowledge and/or agreement, contrary to rule 1 and rule 20.03 of the code; he had dishonestly submitted a false and/or misleading application to the SRA for a practising certificate in the name of Joanne Joyce without her knowledge and/or agreement, contrary to rule 1 and rule 20.03 of the code; he had dishonestly submitted a false and/or misleading proposal form to Prime Professions for professional indemnity insurance for the firm of Claim Central Solicitors in the name of Joanne Joyce without her knowledge and/or agreement, contrary to rule 1 of the code; and he had dishonestly attempted to transfer files to the firm of Claim Central Solicitors, which practice was not recognised by the SRA, by purporting to obtain client authorities for such transfers, contrary to rule 1 of the code.
The SDT found that the respondent’s conduct had caused clients to suffer, his staff had suffered and he had caused a great deal of distress to Joanne Joyce, whose professional qualification had been used without her knowledge or consent. The respondent’s conduct had caused serious damage to the reputation of the profession and he had undermined the trust the public placed in solicitors.
The SDT was mindful of the case of SRA v Sharma  EWHL 2022 (Admin) in which Coulson J had stated: ‘Save in exceptional circumstances, a finding of dishonesty will lead to the solicitor being struck off the roll.’ In the absence of any submissions from the respondent, the SDT was satisfied that there were no exceptional circumstances and that, accordingly, the appropriate sanction was to strike him off the roll.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £60,258.