A divorce solicitor who advised clients through his unregulated firm has been fined and rebuked.
Anthony Vingoe, the sole director of Divorce & Finance Specialist Limited, acted in three separate divorce matters between May 2015 and September 2016 through the Cornwall-based company.
According to a Solicitors Regulation Authority decision notice, none of the clients was informed whether or how the services he provided were regulated.
Vingoe, who also acted as a consultant solicitor for Excello Law and SDK Law during the period in question (although no clients of these firms were affected), had listed his business as ‘solicitors’ in Companies House record, despite it not being authorised or regulated by the SRA.
In one case, he prepared a financial statement which was sent to a client’s solicitors and inserted the name Divorce & Financial Specialist in the statement of truth under the section ‘name of applicant/respondent solicitor’s firm’.
In the second matter, Vingoe wrote to the other side’s solicitors, the court and various third parties informing them he was acting for the client in question.
A third case saw Vingoe provide consultancy services to a company advising one woman on her divorce: when that company folded, Vingoe stepped in under the Divorce & Finance Specialist name to send the decree nisi and an application to apply for the decree absolute. His company continued to act for her through court proceedings and the securing of a decree absolute.
Vingoe admitting breaching one SRA rule and two SRA principles. The regulator confirmed he failed to achieve two outcomes of the code of conduct by writing to the court, clients, opponents and third parties using a letterhead and style of communication that gave the impression the correspondence was from a firm of solicitors.
He maintained that he had not deliberately sought to breach any rules, no clients had suffered any loss, and, in the case of the third client, he was simply trying to help a woman complete her divorce.
The SRA opted to fine him £800 and ordered him to pay £600 costs.