A former law firm director will seek to have his name taken off the roll by the Solicitors Regulation Authority after admitting to regulatory breaches that occurred when his judgement was impaired by ill health.
Marcus Hugh Rickard, who was a director at Didcot firm Law and Property LLP until January 2015, admitted to: making improper payments from the firm’s client bank account; making improper transfers between client ledgers; failing to inform clients about matters which were material to their instructions; and creating fictitious client matters or files.
A regulatory settlement agreement posted on the SRA’s website states that the firm reported Rickard’s conduct to the regulator on 7 January 2015.
The decision states that, putting forward mitigation, Rickard, who was admitted to the roll in 2000, provided medical evidence to the regulator that he was 'likely to be suffering from depression and bipolar disorder at the time of the misconduct’.
Rickard provided a medical report dated 10 June 2015 in which he was diagnosed by a consultant psychiatrist as having had a depressive illness for four years. The report records that in January 2015 he was diagnosed as suffering from an adjustment disorder with a prolonged depressive reaction.
A pyschologist’s report dated 16 March 2015 diagnosed Rickard with a variant of bipolar disorder, cyclothymia. The regulator’s decision states that the psychologist 'is of the opinion, that although Rickard is responsible for his decisions, the condition means that his thinking is likely to have been sufficiently impaired that he would make serious errors of judgement’.
The regulator says Rickard accepted he wrongly treated client monies as monies belonging to the firm.
The decision states: 'He describes his actions as insane and irrational, and that his actions were not intended to benefit anyone but the clients and it was his belief that he was acting in the best interests of his client. He says that he did not benefit or gain in any way from his actions.’
The SRA says Rickard undertakes to make an application to the regulator to remove his name from the roll of solicitors within two weeks of the date of the agreement. He also undertakes not to seek restoration as a solicitor.
Rickard was fined £2,000 in respect of his admissions. He also agreed to pay costs to the regulator in the sum of £1,300.