A 63-year-old solicitor has been struck off the roll for misconduct in one property transaction after 'an otherwise unblemished career’ spanning 40 years.
Stephen John Chubb was a partner at Orpington firm Clarkson Wright & Jakes Limited when he caused a backdated declaration of trust to be created, signed and submitted to HM Land Registry in 2007, an SDT ruling, following a hearing in September, states.
The matters giving rise to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s allegations were brought to the regulator’s attention by the firm in December 2012, the tribunal said. Chubb left the practice in around January 2013.
The backdated declaration of trust was relied on in another document submitted to the registry, the judgment states.
Chubb failed to disclose to his lender clients that his firm was acting for both the lessor and lessee under the proposed transactions.
He submitted to them certificates of title containing incomplete or inaccurate information regarding the values for the transactions to which they purportedly related.
He also failed to notify them that the proceeds of the mortgage advances would be used, in whole or in part, for the purposes of discharging a pre-existing mortgage relating to premises that were the subject of the transactions.
Murdochs Solicitors’ Andrew Blatt, for Chubb, asked the SDT that Chubb be given ‘full credit for never having sought to blame anyone else or deny what he had done’.
Blatt said Chubb ’derived no personal benefit’ from the ‘single one-off transaction regarding a loan where nobody suffered’.
‘He always accepted the lack of integrity and he recognised that his moral compass had gone way off.’
Blatt asked the tribunal to consider suspension and, if appropriate, for it to be a short period or even a suspended period of suspension.
However, the tribunal said it was ‘not an isolated incident of wrongdoing’, lasting from April 2007 when the backdated declaration of trust was created, to July 2007, when the certificates of title was signed and submitted, and later that month, when the mortgage proceeds were distributed.
The tribunal said: ‘[Chubb] was a very experienced solicitor and as a senior solicitor who had spent all his life dealing in property work knew or ought reasonably to have known that the conduct complained of was in material breach of his obligations to protect the public and the reputation of the legal profession.
The tribunal ’had regard to the fact that only one transaction was involved in an otherwise unblemished career of 40 years’. But it said Chubb’s misconduct had been of the ’utmost seriousness’ and he had ‘failed miserably’ in his duty to protect lenders, who formed part of the public.
The strike-off was ‘both appropriate and fair’, it said. Chubb was ordered to pay costs of £22,424.55.