Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)
Hearing 14-16 December 2020
Reasons 20 January 2021
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
While in practice as RJ Solicitors, the respondent had failed to progress a client matter and/or return the client’s documents in a timely manner, in breach of principles 4, 5 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. She was manifestly incompetent.
In relation to that matter, she had provided false and misleading information to her client about the progress of the matter, in breach of principles 2 and 6. She was dishonest.
She had failed to comply with requests for information and documents from the SRA and/or its agents, thereby breaching principles 6 and 7, and failing to comply with principles 6 and 7 and outcomes 10.6, 10.8 and 10.9 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. She was manifestly incompetent.
She had provided the SRA with false and misleading information in relation to an investigation, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 7. She was dishonest.
She had provided false and misleading information in proposal forms for professional indemnity insurance dated 18 September 2018 and 29 August 2019, in breach of principles 2 and 6 of the Principles. She was dishonest.
Between January 2015 and 30 May 2020, when the SRA intervened into her firm, she had recklessly breached the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and the SRA Accounts Rules 2019: by failing, with manifest incompetence, (i) to maintain proper accounting systems and proper internal controls over those systems to ensure compliance with the relevant rules; (ii) to keep proper accounting records to show accurately the position regarding money held for each client, and to ensure that current balances on client ledger accounts were shown or were readily ascertainable; and (iii) to undertake client account reconciliations for periods after 9 January 2015, when required; she had dishonestly failed to obtain SRA accountant’s reports in relation to the firm for any period after 8 January 2014; she had, with manifest incompetence, failed to remedy or correct breaches of the Solicitors Accounts Rules promptly upon discovery and had made 207 transfers from client account to office account, totalling £134,393.40, but had been unable to provide satisfactory supporting evidence for making such transfers at that time.
By failing to comply with the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and 2019 as detailed above, she had also breached or failed to comply with: principle 2 (in relation to her failure to obtain accountant’s reports only); principle 6 of the 2011 Principles and/or, for events after 25 November 2019, principle 2 of the SRA Principles 2019; her obligations as a compliance officer for finance and administration under rule 8.5(e) of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011 and, to the extent relevant after 25 November 2019, rule 9.2 of the SRA Code for Firms 2019. She was manifestly incompetent.
In the light of its findings, the SDT had determined that neither a reprimand, financial penalty, restrictions on practice nor a suspension order sufficiently met the seriousness of the misconduct. The appropriate and proportionate sanction was, therefore, an order striking the respondent off the roll. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £25,000.
North Yorkshire Law
On 11 February 2021, the panel resolved to intervene into the above-named licensed body, North Yorkshire Law, based at 50 Albemarle Crescent, Scarborough, North Yorkshire YO11 1XX, and at 23 Baxtergate, Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 1BW, and into the practice of Richard Charles Boyd at North Yorkshire Law.
The grounds of intervention into the practice of Richard Charles Boyd were:
- there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Boyd in connection with his practice at the firm - paragraph 1(1)(a)(i) of Schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended); and
- Boyd failed to comply with the rules made under sections 31 and 32 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended) – paragraph 1(1)(c) of Schedule 1 to the Act.
The grounds of intervention into North Yorkshire Law were:
- there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Boyd in connection with the firm’s business – paragraph 1(2)(d) of Schedule 14 to the Legal Services Act 2007; and
- one or more of the terms of the firm’s licence have not been complied with – paragraph 1(2)(a) of Schedule 14 to the Legal Services Act 2007.
John Owen of Gordons LLP, 1 New Augustus Street, Bradford BD1 5LL, tel: 0113 227 0230, email: NYL@gordonsllp.com, has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent.
The first date of attendance was 16 February 2021.
Boyd’s practising certificate was suspended as a result of the intervention.