Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)
Andrew Elliot Board and Christine Anne Haniver
Hearing 2-6 November 2020
Reasons 13 January 2021
The first respondent (admitted 1973) and the second respondent (clerk) denied the allegations made against them by the applicant and the SDT found the allegations not proved. The SDT therefore ordered that the allegations be dismissed and further that there be no order for costs.
In December 2012, the first and second respondents had been appointed as joint attorneys under a lasting power or attorney for property and financial affairs on behalf of client A. At around the same time they had also been appointed as client A’s attorneys for health and welfare. The allegations had arisen as a consequence of those appointments.
Hearing 21 December 2020
Reasons 15 January 2021
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
While in practice as a solicitor at Carson Kaye Ltd, trading as Carson Kaye Solicitors, the respondent had conspired to defraud; concealed, disguised, converted, transferred and removed criminal property; and had made a false instrument, intending that it be accepted as genuine. In doing so, she had breached principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.
The parties had invited the SDT to deal with the allegation against the respondent in accordance with an agreed outcome.
The SDT had reviewed all the material before it and was satisfied that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made. The allegation was based on a criminal conviction for a serious offence of dishonesty at the Crown court, which had resulted in the imposition of a suspended term of imprisonment.
The matter was so serious that a strike-off was the most appropriate sanction. No exceptional circumstances had been advanced by the parties or identified by the SDT.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £337.
David Elden Howes
Hearing 11 November 2020
Reasons 13 January 2021
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
While in practice as the sole equity owner and solicitor at David Howes Solicitors, the respondent had, between 30 July 2019 and 21 February 2020, failed to have in place valid professional indemnity insurance, thereby breaching (prior to 25 November 2019) rules 4.1 and 5.1 of the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2013, and principles 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011; and (from 25 November 2019) rules 2.1 and 4.1 of the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2019, and principles 2 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2019.
Between 15 June 2019 and 13 January 2020, the respondent had continued to practise, including conducting reserved legal activity and holding client money, without valid insurance, when he knew or should have known that no valid insurance was in place, thereby breaching (prior to 25 November 2019) principles 2, 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011; and (from 25 November 2019) principles 2, 5 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2019. He had acted dishonestly.
On 13 November 2019 and 8 January 2020, the respondent informed third parties that valid PII insurance was in place when he knew or should have known it was not, thereby breaching (prior to 25 November 2019) principles 2, 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011; and (from 25 November 2019) principles 2, 5 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2019. He had acted dishonestly.
Between January 2019 and 6 February 2020, the respondent had failed to keep any books of accounts, thereby breaching (prior to 25 November 2019) rules 29.1, 29.2, 29.4, 29.11 and 29.12 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011; (from 25 November 2019) rule 8 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2019; (prior to 25 November 2019) principles 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011, and (from 25 November 2019) principle 2 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2019.
Dishonesty had been alleged and found proved. The respondent’s misconduct had been deliberate, calculated and repeated, and had continued over a period of time. The respondent had continued to take on new clients while without valid insurance. There was no evidence of actual harm to clients although the risk had been there.
A finding of dishonesty would almost invariably lead to striking-off, save in exceptional circumstances. The respondent had submitted no general mitigation or personal mitigation, although the SDT had found a limited number of general mitigating factors. None was such as to reduce the seriousness of what the respondent had done.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £6,488.
Shadab Ahmed Khan
Hearing 18 December 2020
Reasons 25 January 2021
The SDT granted the applicant’s application for restoration to the roll, subject to the following conditions: that he might not (i) practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised 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 for three years from the date of the order; (iii) be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; (iv) hold client money; (v) be a signatory on any client account; or (vi) work as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the SRA, with liberty to apply to vary those conditions.
The applicant had been convicted in 2009 of one count of money laundering and two counts of failing to disclose knowledge or suspicion of money laundering, for which he had been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. The SDT had found that he had thereby acted in breach of rules 1.02 and 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007, and had struck his name from the roll on 9 November 2011.
In September 2017, the applicant’s application for his name to be restored to the roll had been refused, on the grounds that he had failed to show sufficient insight and rehabilitation.
On 11 September 2020 he had made the present application for restoration to the roll.
The timing of the present application was not premature, and sufficient time had elapsed since the date of the first application for restoration for further reflection on his part.
At the time of the present application for restoration to the roll, the applicant had been working at Certus Solicitors LLP as a paralegal since 12 August 2019. NA, a partner at Certus, had confirmed his willingness to retain the applicant’s services as a solicitor if his name was restored to the roll. He would continue to supervise the applicant as he had done when the applicant had worked as a paralegal. The applicant had made great efforts in his continuing knowledge of law and keeping abreast of changes in the law and the regulatory framework.
The SDT was prepared to accept with respect to his level of competence that he was ‘fit’ to practise if the decision was taken to restore him to the roll. However, the question remained whether the applicant was of ‘proper’ character to be restored to the roll.
The SDT was satisfied that the applicant had been totally rehabilitated, and that public confidence in the reputation of the profession would not be damaged by readmitting him to the roll. However, restoration to the roll was a first step, and the public would expect extra safeguards to be set in place. To that end restrictions would be placed on the applicant’s ability to practise. The applicant was ordered to pay costs of £3,000.
Lawrence Peter McCullagh
Hearing 2-3 November 2020
Reasons 28 January 2021
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for an indefinite period from 3 November 2020.
The respondent had provided misleading and inaccurate responses in interviews with VSH LLP, by informing them that he had to give a month’s notice to S & Co, when in fact he was no longer employed by S & Co having been dismissed by S & Co for gross misconduct on 21 November 2014, in breach of principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had acted dishonestly.
The misconduct in the first interview was spontaneous. The respondent had been unaware of the error in his CV and thus the misapprehension under which his interviewers were labouring. His medical condition (in particular the effect of intrusive OCD thoughts) and his difficulty in switching from one set of thoughts to another and the potential to be distracted from his train of thought by unexpected questions, referred to by the medical experts, reduced his culpability somewhat. His misleading answer in the second interview was also spontaneous and not part of any calculated plan.
The overall seriousness of the misconduct was high; that was inevitable given the findings of dishonesty and lack of integrity.
However, the respondent’s medical condition, heightened anxiety and specific pressures to which he was subject at the time had impaired his ability to react appropriately to the questions, and indeed to his own misleading answers once given, in the way an individual without his disability would be likely to do.
The respondent’s case fell within the small residual category of cases where there were exceptional circumstances which meant that strike-off from the roll was not the appropriate sanction.
Based on the medical evidence presented, there was a realistic prospect that the respondent would become more resilient and might recover from the medical conditions such that he would be capable of functioning at a level where he no longer represented a material risk to the public or to the reputation of the profession. Indefinite suspension from the roll, effective immediately, was the appropriate and just outcome, striking the correct balance between an appropriate sanction, a recognition that the respondent’s actions had harmed the profession and the need to take into account his particular compelling personal mitigation.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £15,000.
Hearings 7-9 October 2019, 4-6 November 2020, 2 December 2020
Reasons 28 January 2021
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll. L, a partner and principal at the respondent’s firm from May 2007 to the termination of his employment in January 2010, had pursued a claim against the respondent for sums due to him under his contract of employment (the civil claim). When giving evidence in the High Court in that claim, concerning a letter written by the firm’s accountant to Work Permits UK, the respondent had given evidence that was knowingly untrue and evasive, obfuscating, and lacking in candour, in breach of principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had acted dishonestly.
In giving evidence concerning an email dated 6 November 2007, the respondent had denied its plain meaning and his evidence was evasive, obfuscating, and lacking in candour, in breach of principles 1, 2 and 6.
The respondent had given untrue evidence, to the effect that [Mr L’s] 10% right was dependent upon his generating £300,000 income from his own clients, in breach of principles 1, 2 and 6. He had acted dishonestly.
When giving evidence concerning the earnings of the firm, the respondent had given evidence which was evasive, obfuscating and lacking in candour, in breach of principles 1, 2 and 6.
The respondent’s motivation had been to succeed in the civil claim as he had a financial interest in the outcome. Since he had been unsuccessful in the civil claim, his untrue evidence had not resulted in any loss to an individual. However, there was fundamental damage to the profession caused by a solicitor being dishonest under oath.
The misconduct was at the highest level and the appropriate sanction was a strike-off.
There was nothing exceptional about the circumstances of the misconduct, and therefore no justification for a lesser sanction than that the respondent be struck off the roll.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £34,884.
Campbell & Co Solicitors
On 19 February 2021, the SRA intervened into the practice of Sandra Campbell, at Campbell & Co Solicitors, 79 College Road, Harrow HA1 1BD and Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London W1J 6BE.
The grounds of intervention were: there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Campbell in connection with her practice – paragraph 1(1)(a)(i) schedule 1, part I, Solicitors Act 1974; Campbell had failed to comply with the SRA Principles, SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors and SRA Accounts Rules, which are rules made under sections 31 and 32 of the Solicitors Act 1974 – paragraph 1(1)(c) schedule 1, part I, Solicitors Act 1974.
Campbell’s practising certificate was suspended by reason of the intervention.
James Dunn of Devonshires Solicitors LLP, 30 Finsbury Circus, London EC2M 7DT, has been appointed to act the Society’s intervention agent.