A former consultant solicitor has agreed to take himself off the roll after he failed to ensure his firm received its agreed cut of fees.
Rajesh Brightman, a solicitor since 2014, was employed from qualification as an immigration specialist with virtual firm Scott-Moncrieff & Associates Limited. His consultancy agreement stated that money received from clients should be paid into the firm’s client account, with Brightman then receiving 70% and the firm keeping 30%. He had previously been employed by the firm as a barrister.
From January 2014, according to a regulatory settlement agreement published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, a number of clients began to pay money into Brightman’s own company bank account. Over the next three years, Brightman received around £285,000 from clients, of which more than £50,000 should have gone to the firm.
He claimed this arrangement had been put in place for reasons of convenience, and stated that his then wife kept his accounts and was responsible for transferring money from his personal account to the firm.
Many clients believed Brightman was acting for them through the firm, but 77 of the first 100 clients on his spreadsheets did not appear on the firm’s case management system, the settlement states. In many cases Brightman did not provide clients with any information on fees, how to complain or how he was regulated.
His consultancy agreement was terminated in April 2017, after which he began to provide unregulated immigration advice, claiming to have been supervised by Romanian-based legal business DDR Legal Services.
Brightman admitted failing to account to his firm money received from clients, failing to keep proper records of fees, and later acting outside regulatory permissions.
In mitigation, not endorsed by the SRA, Brightman noted health and personal issues and the challenges of working remotely. He also made an offer to catch up with the debt due to the firm and left funds with it on termination of his consultancy. He believed DDR was compliant with regulation.
He undertook to apply to voluntarily remove his name from the roll and not to seek restoration for at least five years. He will also pay £2,000 costs.