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

Geoffrey Howard Julian Critchlow

Application 11940-2019

Admitted 1984

Hearing 21-22 July 2020

Reasons 20 August 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £10,000.

While in practice as a solicitor and the senior partner of Critchlow and Associates Limited, trading at the material time as Al Bawardi Critchlow Solicitors, the respondent had acted towards A, an employee of the firm, in a manner which was inappropriate in that, while at a wine bar, he had touched A’s leg on one or more occasion; rubbed her back; kissed the back of her neck; rested his head on her shoulder, and touched her bottom, in circumstances in which he should have known that such conduct was not wanted or invited, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

The fact that the respondent was the senior partner of the firm and A was a young paralegal who had just joined the firm was an aggravating feature in the case. The respondent’s behaviour had been unacceptable and should not have occurred.

However, the respondent had immediately recognised that and had made a full and open self-report to the applicant within six weeks of the incident. He had fully apologised to A and his firm had paid for her to have independent legal advice concerning the incident. When she left the firm shortly afterwards, his firm had paid a sum of money to her as part of a settlement agreement.

The respondent had not appeared before the SDT before in an otherwise unblemished legal career of over 30 years. The character references provided from a range of individuals all spoke of shock at what the respondent had done. However, his behaviour was unacceptable in any circumstances and the SDT had considerable sympathy for A who must have been appalled and upset by his behaviour.

A fine at level 3 was appropriate. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £8,000.

RJ Solicitors Ltd

On 6 October 2020, the SRA intervened into RJ Solicitors Limited and the practice of Rosemary Ann Joyce at R J Solicitors Limited of 64 St Peter’s Avenue, Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire DN355HP. The grounds of intervention in respect of RJ Solicitors Limited were:

  • Ms Rosemary Joyce, as a manager of the firm, and the firm itself had failed to comply with the SRA Principles and the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules, which are rules applicable to them both 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 intervene to protect the interests of clients or former clients, the interests of beneficiaries of any trust of which the firm is or was a trustee, or the interests of the beneficiaries of any trust of which a person who is or was a manager or employee of the firm is or was a trustee in that person’s capacity as a manager or employee (paragraph 32(1)(e) of schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985).

The grounds of intervention in respect of Rosemary Ann Joyce were:

  • Joyce had failed to comply with the Principles and the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules, which are rules made under sections 31 and 37 of the Solicitors Act (paragraph 1(1)(c) of schedule 1 – part I to the Solicitors Act 1974).
  • It was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients or former clients and the beneficiaries of any trust of which Joyce is or was a trustee (paragraph 1(1)(m) of schedule 1 – part I to the Solicitors Act 1974).

Sean Joyce of Stephensons Solicitors LLP, Wigan Investment Centre, Waterside Drive, Wigan, Greater Manchester WN35BA;  email: sraenquiries@stephensons.co.uk; tel: 03333214401; has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent.

Octagon Solicitors Ltd

On 30 September 2020, the Adjudication Panel resolved to intervene into the above-named recognised body, based at 162 Cannon Street, London, E1 2LH and at 61 Whalley Range, Blackburn BB1 6EA, and into the practice of Mohammed Arshad Amin at the firm.

Octagon Solicitors Ltd also traded under the name of Central Law Solicitors.

The grounds of intervention into Amin’s practice were:

  • there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Amin in connection with his practice as a solicitor – paragraph 1(1)(a)(i) of schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended); and
  • Amin had failed to comply with the rules - paragraph 1(1)(c) of schedule 1 to the act.

The grounds of intervention into Octagon Solicitors Ltd were:

  • there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Amin, as manager of Octagon Solicitors Limited, in connection with its business – paragraph 32(1)(d)(i) of schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985 (as amended); and
  • as manager of Octagon Solicitors Limited, Amin had failed to comply with the rules applicable to him by virtue of section 9 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 – paragraph 32(1)(a) of schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985 (as amended).

Sean Joyce of Stephensons Solicitors LLP, Wigan Investment Centre, Waterside Drive, Wigan, Greater Manchester WN3 5BA; tel: 0333 344 4776;  has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent. The first date of attendance was 2 October 2020.

Amin is currently overseas. Arrangements will be made by the agent to uplift all practice files and papers relating to this firm.

 Sidney Torrance & Co and Albin Hunt & Stein

On 9 October 2020, the Adjudication Panel resolved to intervene into the firms Sidney Torrance & Co and Albin Hunt & Stein, formerly based at Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London,WC1H 9BB, and into the practice of Suzanne Helen Rose at the firms.

The grounds of intervention into Rose’s practice were: it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients or former clients and the beneficiaries of any trust of which Rose is or was a trustee (paragraph 1(1)(m) of schedule 1 – part I to the Solicitors Act 1974).

The grounds of intervention into Sidney Torrance & Co and Albin Hunt & Stein were: it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients or former clients, the interests of beneficiaries of which the firms are or were a trustee, or the interests of the beneficiaries of any trust of which a person who is or was a manager or employee of the firms is or was a trustee in that person’s capacity as a manager of employee (paragraph 32(1)(e) schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985).

Michael Veal of Lester Aldridge, Russell House, Oxford Road, Bournemouth BH8 8EX;  tel: 01202 786341, email: interventions@la-law.com; has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent.