Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)
Hearing 19 April 2021
Reasons 12 May 2021
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal refused the applicant’s application for the determination of the indefinite suspension imposed on him on 6 June 2011, for breaches of the Solicitors Accounts Rules.
A previous application for determination of the indefinite suspension had been refused on 9 June 2015.
The respondent opposed the application on the basis that the applicant had not discharged the burden on him to show that termination of the indefinite suspension would not adversely affect the reputation of the legal profession; nor be contrary to the interests of the public.
The misconduct giving rise to the suspension was serious but not the most serious in that lack of integrity and dishonesty had not been alleged.
There were significant concerns, however, about the applicant’s training. The most recent evidence of training was from 2019 and did not include the Solicitors Accounts Rules 2019 or the Code of Conduct 2019, both of which made substantial and significant changes to the obligations on solicitors.
There was also concern that the applicant had not been working in an employed capacity with a firm and had therefore not been supervised, mentored or guided by a practising solicitor. He had been offered a job by a firm which, being authorised and regulated by the respondent, would have had to satisfy the various requirements of authorisation, including having adequate procedures in place for supervision.
However, the letter from the firm did not specify what measures would be in place specifically for the applicant in terms of supervision, having regard to the time he had spent out of practice.
Taking all those factors into account and having regard to the guidance, the SDT was not satisfied that terminating the indefinite suspension would not adversely affect the reputation of the legal profession; nor be contrary to the interests of the public. The application was therefore refused.
The applicant was ordered to pay costs of £2,000.
Nicholas Peter Whiffen
Hearing 13-14 April 2021
Reasons 10 May 2021
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
The respondent had allowed a client account shortage in the sum of £195,867.59 to exist as at 31 December 2019, by acting in breach of principles 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rules 1, 6, 7.1, 7.2 and 20.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, and by failing to achieve outcomes 1.1 and 1.2 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. He had acted dishonestly.
He had misused client money, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10, rules 1, 6, 7.1 and 7.2 of the rules, and failing to achieve outcomes 1.1 and 1.2 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. He had acted dishonestly.
In his capacity as the compliance officer for finance and administration of the firm at the material time, he did not report the material breaches of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 or the SRA Code of Conduct 2011, in breach of rule 8.5 of the Authorisation Rules 2011 and in breach of principles 2, 6, 7, 8 and 10. He had acted dishonestly.
The misconduct had been deliberate, calculated and repeated and had continued over a period of time.
It was mitigated to a limited extent by the fact that some of the disbursements had been paid and there had been some admissions to the allegations.
The misconduct was at the highest level and the only appropriate sanction was a strike-off. The circumstances were not exceptional and there was therefore nothing that would justify a lesser sanction.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £18,500.
Cahill De Fonseka
On 25 May 2021 the SRA intervened into the recognised sole practice of Richard Cahill, Cahill De Fonseka, of 89a The Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 1QE. The collection of the Cahill De Fonseka practice papers took place on 27 May 2021. The grounds of intervention were:
- Cahill had failed to comply with the SRA Principles, which are rules made under section 31 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (Schedule 1, Part I, paragraph 1(1)(c) of 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 Cahill is or was a trustee (Schedule 1, Part I, paragraph 1(1)(c) of the Solicitors Act 1974).
Michael Veal of Lester Aldridge, Russell House, Oxford Road, Bournemouth BH8 8EX; tel: 01202 786341; email: Intervention.Enquiries@LA-Law.com; has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent.
Cahill’s practising certificate was suspended as a result of the intervention.
On 1 June 2021, the Adjudication Panel resolved to intervene into Analiza Abella Kjaer, practising as Able Law of Highland House, 165 The Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 1NE.
The grounds for intervention were:
- There was reason to suspect dishonesty by Kjaer in connection with her practice as a solicitor (paragraph 1(1)(a)(i) Schedule 1 – Part I Solicitors Act 1974).
- It was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients or former clients and any beneficiaries of any trust of which Kjaer is or was a trustee (paragraph 1(1)(m) Schedule 1 – Part I Solicitors Act 1974).
John Owen of Gordons LLP, 1 New Augustus Street, Bradford BD1 5LL; tel: 0113 227 2116; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent.
The SRA will be making arrangements to collect the files, accounting records and money relating to this firm.
Kjaer’s practising certificate was suspended as a result of the intervention decision.