Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)

Lawrence Poul Rossing Lupin

Application 12054-2020

Admitted 1992

Hearing 19 May, 1 June 2020

Reasons 17 June 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £15,000, and further that he should be subject to the conditions that, for an indefinite period from 1 June 2020, he might not:

i)    practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body;

ii)    be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration;

iii)    hold client money; or

iv)    be a signatory on any client account, with liberty to apply to vary those conditions.

The respondent had kept money received from the [Legal Aid Agency] for the payment of disbursements in office account, thereby breaching rules 1.2, 7, 14.1 and 19.1(b) of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 2011, and principles 6, 8 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011.

He had wrongly recorded 44 cheques worth £22,958.90 as ‘unpresented’ in the office account but as having been issued in the client account, thereby breaching rules 1.2 and 7 of the 2011 rules, and principles 6, 8 and 10.

He had failed to pay £25,964.68 to an interpreting services firm in respect of 260 invoices, despite the firm having the money for at least 58 of these invoices in the office account, thereby breaching rules 1.2 and 7 of the 2011 rules, and principles 6 and 8.

By having a client account shortfall of £22,958.90, the respondent had breached rules 1.2, 7 and 13.8 of the 2011 rules, and principles 6, 8 and 10.

In his capacity as COFA of the firm he had failed to ensure or take adequate steps to ensure compliance with the firm’s regulatory obligations under the 2011 rules, thereby breaching principles 6 and 7, and rule 8.5 of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011.

He had failed to put in place effective controls or supervision, and had not properly dealt with the firm’s financial position, thereby breaching principles 6 and 8, and failing to achieve outcomes 7.2 and 7.4 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

The parties had invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with an agreed outcome.

The appropriate sanction was a financial penalty of £15,000, with targeted restrictions on practice aimed at the protection of client funds.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £10,000.

J A Simon & Co Ltd

 On 6 July 2020, the adjudication panel resolved to intervene into the practice of Jonathan Andrew Simon at J A Simon & Co Ltd and into the firm, J A Simon & Co Ltd, of 14 Mill Lane, West Derby, Liverpool L12 7JB. The grounds of intervention into the practice of Jonathan Andrew Simon were:

  • Mr Simon had failed to comply with the SRA Principles, SRA Principles 2011, SRA Accounts Rules, SRA Accounts Rules 2011, SRA Code for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs, and the SRA Code for Firms – paragraph 1(1)(c) of schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974; and
  • it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients or former or potential clients of Mr Simon or the interests of the beneficiaries of any trust of which Mr Simon is or was a trustee – paragraph 1(1)(m) of schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974.

The grounds of intervention into J A Simon & Co Ltd were:

  • Mr Simon, as a manager of the firm, and the firm itself, failed to comply with the SRA Principles, SRA Principles 2011, SRA Accounts Rules, SRA Accounts Rules 2011, SRA Code for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs and the SRA Code for Firms – paragraph 32(1)(a) of schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985; and
  • it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients (or former or potential clients) of the firm, the interests of the beneficiaries of any trust of which the firm is or was a trustee, or the interests of the beneficiaries of any trust of which Mr Simon is or was a trustee in his capacity as a manager – paragraph 32(1)(e) of schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985.

Sean Joyce of Stephensons Solicitors LLP, Wigan Investment Centre, Waterside Drive, Wigan WN3 5BA; tel: 0333 344 4776; DX: 322401 Wigan 11; email: sraenquiries@stephensons.co.uk; has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent

Mr Simon’s practising certificate was suspended as a result of the intervention.

The Law Practice (UK) Ltd

The adjudication panel resolved to intervene into the closed firm, The Law Practice (UK) Ltd, formerly of Office S1, West Midlands House, Gipsy Lane, Willenhall, West Midlands WV13 2HA.

The grounds of intervention were:

  • There was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Paul Harris, as a manager of the firm, and as a manager of Jerome Solicitors Ltd in connection with the firm’s business – paragraph 32(1)(d)(i) of schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985.
  • Harris had failed to comply with the SRA Principles 2011, the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, the 2019 Principles and the 2019 Accounts Rules which are rules applicable to him by virtue of section 9 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 (as amended) – paragraph 32(1)(a) of schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985.
  • It was necessary to exercise the powers of intervention to protect the interests of clients (or former clients) of the firm – paragraph 32(1)(e) of schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985.

Arrangements are being made to uplift archived files.

Robinson’s Solicitors

 On 15 July 2020, the panel resolved to intervene into the above-named sole practice of Matthew Robinson at Beckett House, Sovereign Court, Wyrefields, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire FY6 8JX.

The grounds for intervention were: a failure to comply with rules made under sections 31, 32 and 37 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended) – paragraph 1(1)(c) of schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended); and it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of Robinson’s clients or former clients and beneficiaries of any trust of which he is or was a trustee – paragraph 1(1)(m) of schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended).

John Owen of Gordons LLP, 1 New Augustus Street, Bradford BD1 5LL; tel :0113 227 2102; email: intervention@gordonsllp.com; has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent.

The first date of attendance was 20 July 2020.

Robinson’s practising certificate has been suspended as a result of the intervention.

Natalie Levinzon

Application 12071-2020

Admitted 2007

Hearing 14 July 2020

Reasons 3 August 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for nine months from 14 July 2020, and thereafter should be subject to the following conditions for two years: that she might not (i) be a manager or owner of any authorised 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 head of legal practice/compliance officer for legal practice or a head of finance and administration/compliance officer for finance and administration; hold or receive client money; be a signatory on any client or office account; or have the power to authorise transfers from any client or office account, with liberty to apply to vary those conditions.

While in practice as a partner at Alexander Dobrovinksky & Partners LLP, the respondent had failed to comply with her obligations in respect of anti-money laundering, in that she had failed to have an appropriate anti-money laundering policy in place as required by reg 20 of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and reg 19 of the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017, thereby breaching principles 6, 7 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011 and failing to achieve outcomes 7.2 and 7.5 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

She had failed to ensure that the firm had a firm-wide risk assessment in place as required by reg 18 of the 2017 regulations, thereby breaching principles 6, 7 and 8 and failing to achieve outcomes 7.2 and 7.5.

She had failed to provide to employees of the firm, or to undertake herself, training in relation to the money laundering regulations as required by reg 21 of the 2007 regulations and reg 24 of the 2017 regulations, thereby breaching principles 6, 7 and 8 and failing to achieve outcomes 7.2, 7.5 and 7.6.

She had failed to correctly identify clients IT and PT (by virtue of his family connection to IT) as politically exposed persons (PEPs), as required by reg 14(5) of the 2007 regulations, thereby breaching principles 6, 7 and 8 and failing to achieve outcome 7.5.

She had failed to apply enhanced customer due diligence measures and enhanced ongoing monitoring in respect of clients IT and PT, as required by reg 14(1) and (4) of the 2007 regulations, thereby breaching principles 6, 7 and 8 and failing to achieve outcome 7.5.

While acting for clients K & AB, B, Ku and M, D and S, she had failed to conduct adequate ongoing monitoring, as required by reg 8 of the 2007 regulations, thereby breaching principles 6, 7 and 8 and failing to achieve outcomes 7.3 and 7.5.

While acting for clients IT, PT, K & B, B, Ku and M, D and S, she had failed to maintain adequate client records as required by reg 19 of the 2007 regulations, thereby breaching principles 6, 7 and 8 and failing to achieve outcomes 7.2 and 7.5.

While acting for client M in relation to the purchase of shares she had received into and paid out of the firm’s client account share purchase monies in circumstances which amounted to the improper use of the firm’s client account as a banking facility, in breach of rule 14.5 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, thereby breaching principles 6 and 8 and failing to achieve outcome 7.4.

When no longer instructed by client K, she had allowed funds to remain in the firm’s client account when there was no ongoing underlying legal transaction, in breach of rules 14.3 and 14.5 of the 2011 rules, thereby breaching principles and failing to achieve outcome 7.4.

In respect of client K, she had allowed funds to remain in the firm’s client account, when they should have been returned to the client as soon as there was no longer any proper reason to retain them and without having promptly informed K in writing of the amount of money retained and the reason for it, in breach of rules 14.3 and 14.4 of the 2011 rules, thereby breaching principles 6 and 8 and failing to achieve outcome 7.4.

The parties had invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and proposed outcome.

There was a need to protect both the public and the reputation of the legal profession from future harm from the respondent by removing and thereafter restricting her ability to practise, but striking her off the roll was not justified.

She had agreed to provide an undertaking to the applicant to undergo training courses on anti-money laundering, solicitors accounts, and professional ethics (i.e. SRA regulation and compliance) during any suspension and restriction period, such courses to be agreed in advance by the SRA and certificates of attendance to be provided to the SRA subsequently.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £10,000.

Sufe Miah

Application 12068-2020

Admitted 2009

Hearing 19 May 2020

Reasons 16 June 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £20,000.

While in practice as a solicitor at the Miah Partnership Limited, and while the sole director of the firm, between 16 November 2015 and 29 April 2016, the respondent had caused or allowed the firm’s client account to be used as a banking facility for sums of up to £536,682, thereby breaching rule 14.5 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 6 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011.

Between 7 December 2015 and 22 March 2016 he had caused or allowed the firm’s client account to be used as a banking facility for sums of up to £536,682, thereby breaching rule 14.5 of the rules and principles 6 and 8.

The parties invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and proposed outcome.

The SDT had reviewed all the material before it and was satisfied to the requisite standard that the admissions had been properly made.

The SDT did not consider there was a continuing risk of the respondent’s conduct being repeated. Nevertheless, the admitted misconduct was very serious. The appropriate sanction in the matter was a financial penalty. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £20,344.