A solicitor has been struck off for breaching accounts rules, while two of his senior colleagues have been ordered to pay £60,000 in fines by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
John Knight, admitted in 2013, was a fee earner at Yorkshire firm Wosskow Brown Solicitors when he acted on behalf of a company in respect of a care home redevelopment project.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority alleged that Knight caused or allowed the firm’s client account to be used as a banking facility. It also accused Knight of involving himself and his firm in a project which ‘bore the hallmarks of being a dubious investment scheme’. Knight admitted the allegations. More than £1.7m was paid out the of the client account in the care home matter, the judgment states.
According to the judgment, Knight also admitted creating documents about how the firm handled the matter when a forensic investigation officer got involved. The SRA said ‘contemporaneous’ notes were created on Knight’s work computer 18 months after events were purportedly recorded. The respondent admitted that his conduct was dishonest.
The SDT struck Knight off the roll of solicitors and ordered him to pay costs of £19,662.
Knight’s then-supervisor, Ian David Brown, was also sanctioned by the tribunal. The tribunal found that Ian Brown, admitted in 2000, failed to adequately supervise Knight in respect of the care home scheme in that Knight caused or allowed the firm's client account to be used as a banking facility. It also found that Ian Brown failed to adequately supervise Knight in respect of the care home project, which bore the hallmarks of being a dubious investment scheme.
The tribunal said ‘the lack of supervision in these matters was abysmal’ and noted that Ian Brown was the firm’s compliance officer for legal practice and for finance and administration. However, it noted the respondent had expressed remorse and had a previously unblemished career.
Ian Brown was ordered to pay a fine of £25,000 and £39,324 in costs on a joint and several basis.
Meanwhile, David Eric Brown, a director and an owner of the firm from 2017, was also sanctioned. He admitted causing or allowing the firm’s client account to be used as a banking facility on two occasions.
David Brown was ordered to pay a fine of £35,000 and costs of £39,324 on a joint and several basis with Ian Brown.