A solicitor has been jailed for practising after being struck off the roll.
Anthony David Preston, of Northwood, Middlesex, was sentenced to three months in prison at St Albans Crown Court last week in a prosecution brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the regulator announced today.
It is the first case in recent years of a court imposing an immediate custodial sentence on a solicitor for practising after being struck off.
Preston had acted in conveyancing transactions, administered an oath and obtained letters of administration despite being struck off the roll in October 2012 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT), the SRA said.
He was struck off after allegations including dishonesty and misleading clients about the selling prices of properties in their conveyancing transactions were found proved against him at the SDT. The tribunal said he had dishonestly deprived clients of information which went to the heart of the trust upon which a solicitor/client relationship is based.
In the SRA’s prosecution, Preston pleaded guilty to offences under the Solicitors Act 1974 and Legal Services Act 2007. The offending behaviour took place between November 2012 and May 2013.
The recorder said that the SRA and other regulators do not seek to protect titles out of vanity, but to maintain public confidence in the professions. Preston was also ordered to pay SRA costs of £20,376.30.
Gordon Ramsay, SRA director of legal and enforcement, said: ‘Solicitors are struck off for a number of reasons. One of these is that it’s been found that they cannot be trusted to provide high-quality, competent legal services to clients, many of whom are spending large amounts of money.
‘This was the case with Mr Preston, as the tribunal judgment shows.
‘But he continued to carry out legal services, including handling house purchases, despite having his right to do so revoked. We brought this prosecution to protect the public.
‘We’ve seen previous criminal prosecutions attract suspended prison sentences, but this is the first we are aware of where a court has imposed an immediate custodial sentence.’