SDT: Akpevwe Vanessa Scott-Emuakpor

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  • Application 10813-2011
  • Admitted 2007
  • Hearing 21 February 2012
  • Reasons 26 March 2012

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The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £1,000.

The respondent had failed to pay the run-off cover following the closure of the practice within the prescribed period for payment and was consequently in policy default in breach of rule 16.2 of the Solicitors Indemnity Insurance Rules 2009. The SDT said that a failure to pay a premium for run-off cover was a serious matter and exposed clients to risk.

The purpose of run-off cover was to ensure that clients were properly protected and that, in the event of making a claim, they would have recourse to an insurance policy even though the firm might no longer be in existence. The respondent’s firm had entered the assigned risks pool in the indemnity year 2009/10 and had subsequently closed down in August 2010. As a result of this, a premium for run-off cover was still payable to the ARP and had not been paid.

The costs of the ARP were covered by four premiums paid by firms within the ARP. However, where firms failed to pay, the balance was met by qualifying insurers, who then passed that expense on to the rest of the profession through the level of insurance premiums charged for qualifying insurance. As a result, the rest of the profession also suffered. In the present case, the SDT took into account a number of facts which were relevant. The respondent had co-operated with Capita, she had offered to make repayments to it, and she had provided it with details of her means as requested.

The respondent had appeared previously before the SDT in January 2011 and it was clear from the findings of that hearing that she had been an inexperienced solicitor at the behest of the senior partner, Mr Obatolu, who had been struck off by the SDT. The respondent had been reassured by him that matters were in hand and that he had been applying for a waiver from the Solicitors Indemnity Insurance Rules.

The SDT had seen a letter from the SRA to Mr Obatolu dated 3 February 2011, indicating that it had received an application for a waiver from him. The SDT was satisfied that the respondent had attempted to meet her obligations and had co-operated with Capita and the SRA.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £1,300.

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