A solicitor who was struck off the roll 17 years ago has been denied the chance to re-enter the profession, despite the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal acknowledging the progress he has made to restore his reputation and to overcome alcohol problems.
Charles Andrew Mandleberg applied to be readmitted after he learned from friends at his father’s memorial service how upset his father had been when he was barred from the profession.
He was struck off in 1999 after a Crown court found him guilty of using his former wife’s signature in order to obtain the proceeds of a long-lapsed insurance policy. Mandleberg was sentenced to a conditional discharge for 12 months.
At the time the tribunal found that his mental state had ‘led him to take the steps which he did’. In 1995 he had been suspended from practice for an indefinite period after a third conviction for drink-driving.
Mandleberg had not practised as a solicitor since 1994 when the Law Society intervened into his firm.
Mandleberg, who is now 66 years old, told the tribunal that he had not had to see his doctor relating to his mental health for a long time, and that the last time he had drunk any alcohol was in January 1995.
He currently works for a solicitors’ firm and said he planned to continue in his current employment for the foreseeable future, regardless of the outcome of the tribunal. He said he did not believe that striking him off the roll had been inappropriate, and with hindsight recognised it was the only suitable sanction, but said he was proud of all he had achieved since 2000.
His current and previous employers since he was struck off noted there were no issues with his psychiatric health or alcohol use. One said that readmitting him could ‘only enhance the profession’ due to the integrity with which he advised clients.
The tribunal said it was ‘impressed’ with Mandleberg's progress, and how he had worked hard to restore his professional reputation.
It said: ‘The tribunal has no doubt that the applicant has successfully rehabilitated himself. The tribunal also noted that a considerable amount of time had elapsed since the applicant had been struck off.’
However it was only in rare cases that solicitors could be restored after being struck off for dishonesty, and Mandleberg's progress, though 'highly commendable' was not sufficient to be deemed an ‘exceptional circumstance’.
It refused the application and ordered Mandleberg to pay costs of £3,000.