SDT: Anthony Warren Birchall and John Dominic Ryan
- Application 10829-2011
- Hearing 21 February 2012
- Reasons 26 March 2012
The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1981) should pay a fine of £10,000; and that the second respondent (admitted 1987) should pay a fine of £8,000.
The respondents 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 Solicitors Regulation Authority) within the prescribed period for payment and were in policy default in breach of rule 16.2 of the Solicitors Indemnity Insurance Rules 2010; and they 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.
Further, the first respondent only had failed to comply with an order of the court, contrary to rule 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007. The SDT said that the respondents had been let down at the last minute by their prospective insurers forcing them into the ARP.
The SDT was concerned that the respondents had not been proactive in instructing or dealing with their accountants, or applying for a waiver. However, the respondents had managed to get their firm out of the ARP, which was commendable, and they now appeared to be trading successfully. There was a very real threat of both respondents being made bankrupt and, if they were unable to repay their debts, their careers would effectively be over. The SDT acknowledged that there was great pressure on the respondents to pay the outstanding ARP premium, as well as settle the debt due under the court order.
Both respondents had assured the SDT that the debts would be repaid within six months and the SDT accepted those assurances, bearing in mind the threat of bankruptcy hanging over both respondents if they did not do so. Given the circumstances of the particular case, the SDT was satisfied that the appropriate order was to fine each of the respondents.
The first and second respondents were ordered to pay costs of £2,162, payable jointly and severally. The first respondent was ordered to pay additional costs of £693.