A London solicitor has been struck off for using client money that should have been paid to barristers to settle their fees.
Paul Francis Fallon, commercial litigation partner at City Law Financial at the time of the offences, was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal this week and ordered to pay £160,000 costs.
The tribunal found 10 allegations against him proven, five of which involve dishonesty.
It found a ‘substantial sum’ in fees due to counsel, instructed on behalf of clients, had been used to fund the firm’s payroll and office overheads.
Other allegations against Fallon found proven by the tribunal included: making false statements about the settlement of these fees; appearing on behalf of clients in proceedings in the High Court when he was not qualified or entitled to do so; making a false statement about an adverse costs order to a client and practising without a valid practising certificate.
Fallon did not attend the hearing to offer any evidence in mitigation, but had denied all the allegations.
The SRA closed down City Law Financial in October 2012.
SRA director of legal and enforcement Gordon Ramsay said: ‘The allegations found proven against Mr Fallon are numerous, and each on its own would have been very serious.
‘The dishonesty found in this case is wholly unacceptable and, in the SRA’s view, striking off is a wholly appropriate outcome to this matter.’
Fallon has 21 days from the date the tribunal publishes its written decision in which to appeal.