An accountant has been fined by his regulator over advice to a solicitor who was subsequently suspended for a year.
The Institute for Chartered Accountants in England and Wales severely reprimanded Skipton-based Nicholas Taylor and fined him £3,150 with costs of £5,605.
The institute said Taylor had improperly issued an accountant’s report to the Solicitors Regulation Authority in respect of a law firm, which the Gazette understands to be the Yorkshire practice Barringtons Legal, run by Susan Barrington-Binns (now Susan Hirst). She was suspended for 12 months for breaches of accounts rules after an agreed outcome with the SRA.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal had found Hirst allowed her account to be used as a banking facility by a client, and failed to be alert to the suspicious features of a £1.3m payment to a bank in Belize. There was no finding of dishonesty and no loss of any client money. Hirst maintains that the breaches of accounts rules were directly due to the negligent advice of Taylor and his firm Patro Ltd soon after she founded her business.
In a notice published this week, the ICAEW said that Taylor failed to make appropriate enquiries about accounts reconciliations and transactions being handled by Barringtons.
Hirst told the Gazette that this agreed outcome was ‘damage limitation’ and points out she previously failed with an application of having no case to answer.
Hirst says the disciplinary proceedings and the SRA’s earlier intervention into her firm were caused directly by the advice given by the accountant and she is in the process of issuing proceedings for breach of contract and negligence. It is understood that solicitors acting for Patro Ltd have denied liability on behalf of the accountancy firm.
Hirst immediately went back on the roll after suspension, has been practising since March 2018 and has applied to have conditions on her practising certificate removed.