A solicitor who continued to practise while he was suspended has now been permanently removed from the profession.
Rodney William Noon was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal after working on a construction dispute during a three-month suspension in 2015. This work included preparing instructions to an expert, preparing and filing a directions questionnaire and corresponding with opposing solicitors.
Martin Keith Waters, sole director and manager at West Yorkshire firm Arrans Solicitors, where Noon worked, was himself suspended for six months for failing to ensure Noon’s compliance with the sanction.
The tribunal heard that Noon, admitted in 1985, had been suspended in 2015 after failing to co-operate with ombudsman investigations and failing to obtain authorisation as a recognised sole practitioner. He admitted practising during his suspension after another firm complained to the SRA.
The tribunal found Noon had been ‘guided by his loyalty to the firm and to his clients’, but he paid little attention to what had been a serious sanction. He breached the trust placed in him by his client, whom he had not told about his status, and his conduct was aggravated by dishonesty.
Waters, a solicitor since 2002, submitted he believed he was doing the right thing in ensuring Noon did not refer to himself as a solicitor. He admitted a mistake and incompetent conduct, but denied acting without integrity. The tribunal found his conduct did lack integrity because he should have been fully aware of what work a suspended solicitor could properly undertake.
Waters was also found to have caused or allowed a cash shortage of around £384,000 at his now-defunct firm. He submitted that he was not as diligent as he would normally have been because he was suffering significant injuries after an assault.
Noon, who was largely absent from the hearing and admitted all allegations, was ordered to pay £6,000 costs. Waters must pay £15,000 costs.