A solicitor who took money for referring personal injury cases while he was on state benefits has been struck off the roll.
Ian James Anderson, 51 this year, claimed £7,436 between July 2011 and May 2013 over a medical condition that prevented him from working.
But the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard he made RTA claim referrals for three months during that period and also signed a tenancy agreement for a pub in April 2012.
He was convicted in May 2016 at Lancashire Magistrates Court after admitting to failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions about a change of circumstances affecting his entitlement to employment and support allowance.
He was sentenced to a community order lasting a year to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, as well as being ordered to pay £900 costs to the Crown Prosecution Service and a £60 victim surcharge.
At the tribunal, Anderson’s lawyers pointed out these offences took place at least five years ago and he had worked as a solicitor under supervision with no issues for the past three years.
He had been called by people who had known him as a solicitor for many years and had received money when he passed their cases on. He denied actively seeking work and submitted his behaviour was reckless rather than intentional, suggesting passing details of clients to a third party was not work.
Anderson, a solicitor since 2003, maintained he had been very ill at the time of the offences, demonstrated by him receiving no income from the pub despite his name being on the licence and the pub closing at the end of August 2012.
The tribunal made clear it could not go behind the conviction from the magistrates’ court, and said Anderson had direct control over the circumstances that led to his conviction.
Another aggravating factor was that Anderson had appeared before the tribunal in December 2011 and was suspended for three years for breaches of accounts rules. On that occasion, he had been spared a strike-off as it was concluded he had been ‘out of his depth’.
The latest tribunal found he had shown no real insight or remorse and he had the capacity to notify the DWP when the changes to his circumstances occurred. He was struck off and ordered to pay £4,708 in costs.