A Nottingham firm that failed to complete an undertaking for 18 months has been fined £12,400 by the regulator.

Robert Barber & Sons had agreed to submit applications for registration of a loan within five working days, signing two undertakings in September 2021. The firm was acting for a client who sought to obtain a loan secured by a charge on two properties owned by the client. The firm did not register the charges with HM Land Registry until April 2023. It accepted it failed to perform the undertakings within the agreed timescale.

In an agreed settlement notice, the Solicitors Regulation Authority said the firm created a risk of harm that continued for 18 months. Due to the delay, another party was able to register a charge on one of the properties, which risked compromising the lender’s security. The firm’s client had to instruct alternative solicitors to conclude this transaction.

The firm said it had experienced difficulties in rectifying issues after it was no longer instructed, and submitted that it had received no financial benefit from the misconduct. The firm had co-operated fully and promptly with the SRA investigation, and this was an isolated incident.

The regulator said clients were reasonably entitled to expect that a solicitor or firm providing an undertaking would understand what it meant and would ensure it was fulfilled.

Breaches were deemed to be reckless as there was no supervision of the unresolved matters. The level of fine was set at between 1.6% to 3.2% of domestic turnover. It was reduced by 25% to reflect the firm’s co-operation and early admissions. The firm agreed to pay costs of £1,350.

Robert Barber was established more than 150 years ago. The firm offers conveyancing, family, and wills and probate services, employing 14 people from two offices.