Regulators have rebuked a solicitor for ‘improperly’ withdrawing £7,000 from the client account, leading to a ‘significant shortfall’ for two years.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority sanctioned Manjit Kaur Gill, a sole practitioner at MK Gill Solicitors, after it ruled that the shortfall posed a ‘real and substantial risk’ to clients.
Gill withdrew £7,000 from the client account in December 2011 to pay into the office account to reimburse a cheque written for the same value. But the cheque was cancelled before any money was taken from the office account.
The SRA said that the withdrawal was in breach of its rules, and criticised Gill for the long delay in paying back the money.
Gill said that the withdrawal was not discovered until July 2013, after she received a report from her accountant
But the SRA ruled the date of discovery as December 2011, when the shortfall was visible from the firm’s accounts, and said Gill should have been the one to investigate.
The shortfall was masked by a problem in the firm's accounting software from May 2012 to July 2013, but after this date it took a further nine months to replace the money.
‘Whilst we understand that steps were taken by Manjit Gill to try and source funding from banks and family members in order to replace this shortfall post July 2013, we find that this was not replaced promptly as required,’ the SRA ruled.
Due to the potential loss and inconvenience, the failure to comply with regulatory obligations, and the length of time before the money was replaced, the SRA declared it was in the public interest to rebuke Gill.