Three practitioners will face a hearing at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal over their former firm’s use of monies from an investment fund.
The SRA this week confirmed its decision to prosecute Matthew Dean, Duncan Gibbins and Nicola Klimkowski – all formerly with north west personal injury firm Rehab4life Limited, trading under the name of Lindsays Solicitors.
The charges allege that all three caused or permitted the firm to accept and use the monies from the fund where it was improper to do so.
It is alleged they knew the firm had not complied with the terms of a litigation funding agreement intended to protect the interests of the fund and ultimately the investors.
Each was alleged to have known the monies were being put to a different use than declared and had no intention the firm would repay the funding within the time required by the agreement. The funding agreement had earmarked the funds for ‘eligible legal expenses’.
The charges also include action not taken to check the source of the funding. The SRA alleges that despite being on notice of the ‘serious risk’ that the investment fund’s manager was acting fraudulently, or committing some other breach of duty, they failed to carry out sufficient enquiries to check if this was the case.
The three are also alleged to have unreasonably risked the firm being party to transactions involving fraud and knowing the transactions through which the monies were received were ‘dubious’ and should not have been accepted.
Each is alleged to have ‘acted without integrity, failed to act in the best interests of clients, behaved in a way that did not maintain the trust the public places in him and in the provision of legal services’.
The allegations are subject to an SDT hearing and are as yet unproven.
All three are listed on the FindaSolicitor website as non-practising solicitors.
Rehab4life Limited was acquired by north west firm Duncan Gibbins Solicitors having entered administration in 2013. According to Companies House records, Duncan Gibbins Solicitors was dissolved in November 2014.