A solicitor who breached practising restrictions within days of them being handed to him has been struck off the roll, after a period of suspension.
Freelance criminal solicitor Michael David Schwartz was handed a ban in February last year after the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal activated a suspended sentence and told him he needed permission to practise again. But the tribunal has now published a statement of agreed facts and outcome clarifying that Schwartz is to be struck off the roll.
Schwartz, who admitted dishonesty, was also ordered to pay costs of £2,600.
The solicitor, admitted in 1979, was suspended after he was found to have taken instructions from Birmingham firm Toussaint & Co Solicitors in September 2016, five days after the SDT told him he must seek prior approval before acting for the firm. There was no question of misconduct on the part of the firm.
The latest outcome is the fourth time that Schwartz, described as an ‘experienced criminal solicitor’, has been disciplined by the tribunal.
Schwartz’s first sanction came after he was found to have failed to pay cash given to him by clients into a firm’s client account until prompted by the client themselves.
In the September 2016 hearing, restrictions preventing him acting for Toussaint & Co were imposed to act as a future deterrent. But Schwartz breached those restrictions just five days later, prompting the SRA to apply for a suspended sentence, which it activated in February last year.
In the February hearing, Schwartz said in his witness statement that he incorrectly thought he could work until the Solicitors Regulation Authority had given reasons for the suspended sanction. But during cross-examination, he admitted he had known at the conclusion of the hearing that the restrictions would come into immediate effect.
In the agreed statement, published on 21 August, Schwartz accepted that his ’dishonest conduct’ constituted ’the most serious kind that a solicitor can commit’. The outcome added that the misconduct was ‘repeated, continued over a period of time and involved the attempted concealment of the wrongdoing from the tribunal and the regulator’.