A solicitor who repeatedly lied to clients and later to the SRA as he sought to cover up his mistakes has been struck off the roll. David Kingsley Wedge misled clients into thinking their cases were progressing, assuring them steps had been taken which he had failed to take, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard.
Several complaints were made to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which told a hearing of the SDT that Wedge had lied to clients and then misled the regulator during its investigation. The tribunal found allegations of dishonesty proven against the solicitor of 17 years, who did not attend the hearing and was not represented.
In judgment, the tribunal said: ‘Much of [Wedge’s] conduct was motivated by his desire to cover up his incompetence and his failure to properly progress matters in which he had been instructed. He had displayed a wilful disregard of his professional obligations in the broadest sense. Further, he had an arrogant disregard of his clients’ affairs.’
The tribunal heard that, in a child access case, Wedge asserted that his client’s ex-wife had refused to engage with proceedings, when in fact the solicitor had sent her no letters. The tribunal said the client lost a year of contact with his daughter, who wrongly believed her father had not wanted to see her. The client had paid a large amount of his monthly income in legal fees and was left in debt and suffering from depression.
In another matter, Wedge misled a client pursuing solicitors for professional negligence, telling him counsel had been instructed when this was not true. This client was ultimately unable to progress the negligence claim.
The tribunal said Wedge was in a position of fiduciary duty to his clients, but he ‘abused that position and took advantage of it’.
Wedge, 48 this year, had emailed the tribunal to say he was sorry for any distress or upset he caused, which was unintentional, and he would have run the practice differently with hindsight. He had been suffering significant health issues due to stress at the time of the misconduct.
The tribunal struck Wedge off and ordered him to pay £15,972 costs.