A solicitor who misled a family into thinking that he had taken care of arrangements for their late relative has been banned from the profession.
John Mark O’Hara Walker, 62, admitting to failing to apply for a statutory will on behalf of his client, causing her to die intestate in July 2015. The mistake meant there was no immediate provision for two of her sons, who have learning difficulties and who live in care.
Walker, a legal director in the private client department at Surrey firm Morrisons Solicitors, then misled the family until January 2017 in respect of the purported administration of her estate. His misconduct included fabricating a grant of probate, purportedly issued out of the High Court, to his former client’s son to indicate he had made more progress with the estate than he had.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that Walker, a solicitor for 30 years, admitted dishonesty in respect of his clients and also in misleading his firm about the administration of the estate.
In the tribunal’s judgment, Walker’s representations to his client and others were described as ‘elaborate and sophisticated’, leaving the dead woman’s sons more vulnerable by his actions and deceit.
It went on: '[Her sons] were kept out of the money from their late mother’s estate for at least a couple of years and of the benefits and financial support which they could have derived from it. [Walker] had committed an unforgiveable breach of trust over a period of time.’
The tribunal noted in mitigation that Walker had admitted his misconduct and showed a high degree of insight into what he done, even suggesting he experienced a ‘sense of relief’ when it came to light.
The tribunal approved an agreed outcome between Walker and the SRA that he be struck off. He will also pay £3,000 in costs.