• Application 11648-2017
• Admitted 2007
• Hearing 10 October 2017
• Reasons 2 November 2017
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for six months from 10 October 2017. Upon the expiry of that term of suspension, the respondent would be subject to the following conditions: that he might not (i) practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body; (ii) be a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice or alternative business structure, or other authorised or recognised body; (iii) be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; (iv) hold client money; (v) be a signatory on any client account; or (vi) work as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, with liberty to either party to apply to vary those conditions.
In August 2016, the respondent had breached principle 2 of the SRA Principles 2011 by providing inaccurate information to the firm’s insurer on a proposal form.
Between March 2015 and September 2016, he had breached rules 1.2(e) 1.2(f), 29.1, 29.2 and 29.14 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.
He had failed to submit accountant’s reports for the periods 2014/2015 and 2015/2016, in breach of rule l.2(i) of the rules.
Between March 2015 and 2016, he had caused or allowed, in breach of the accounts rules and principles 8 and 10, the accrual of client account debit balances.
He had failed to remedy breaches of the rules promptly in breach of rule 7.1.
He had transferred client money from client account to the office account in breach of rule 20.1 of the rules.
Between March 2015 and September 2016, while the sole signatory of the client account and a manager and COFA of the firm, he had caused or allowed the transfer of costs from client ledgers to suspense ledgers and other ledgers, in breach of rules 20.1, 29.l and 29.14 of the rules.
He had reached a compromise agreement with client M which breached principles 2 and 8 and outcome 10.7 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2011.
Overall, the respondent’s culpability was high. The main evidence of actual harm caused by his misconduct was the claims on the compensation fund.
The respondent’s professional performance and lack of insight were such as to call into question his continued ability to practise appropriately. Suspension from the roll reflected the seriousness of the misconduct. A six-month suspension would be sufficient to both punish and deter while being proportionate to the seriousness of the misconduct.
The appropriate period would be determined by the respondent, his reflection on the findings and his ability to persuade a future division of the SDT that the restrictions were no longer necessary to protect the public and/or the reputation of the profession from future harm. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £44,077.