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

Paul Geoffrey Hayward

Application 12287-2021

Admitted 1999

Hearing 12 April 2022

Reasons 18 May 2022

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

While in practice as a solicitor and partner at Wards Solicitors LLP and while acting for clients A and B in the sale of one or more properties, the respondent had breached principles 4, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011, and had failed to achieve outcomes 1.2 and 11.2 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011, in that he breached undertakings given on behalf of the firm and had failed to rectify the issues arising from the breaches promptly.

While acting for all or any of clients A, B, C and D in respect of conveyancing transactions, the respondent had breached principles 4, 6 and 10, and had failed to achieve outcome 1.2 of the code, in that he had failed to remove and/or register the relevant charges and/or titles upon completion of the transactions and failed to rectify the issues promptly or at all.

The respondent’s misconduct was motivated by his desire to try to correct his initial mistake. His actions had not been planned but had been a reaction to the circumstances arising on each of the transactions.

While it was accepted that the respondent had made an initial mistake, thereafter he had deliberately and repeatedly misconducted himself over a period of time, in order to rectify his error without informing his employer or his clients.

The respondent’s misconduct was serious, but not so serious that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction in order to protect the public and the reputation of the profession was to strike him off the roll.

A financial penalty adequately reflected the seriousness of his misconduct, and a fine in the sum of £10,000 was appropriate and proportionate in all the circumstances.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £20,723.

Zain Siddiqi

Application 12305-2021

Admitted 2004

Hearing 23 May 2022

Reasons 1 June 2022

The SDT granted the application of the applicant for variation of the conditions imposed by it on 5 July 2018. It ordered that the conditions be varied as follows: that the applicant might not (i) be a sole manager or sole owner of any authorised body; or (ii) practise on his own account under regulation 10.2(a) or (b) of the SRA Authorisation of Individuals Regulations.

The respondent (the Solicitors Regulation Authority) had amended and varied the restrictions it had placed on the applicant’s practising certificate such that the only conditions now imposed by the respondent were that the applicant was not the sole manager or owner of an authorised body and that he could not practise on his own account under regulation 10.2(a) or (b) of the SRA Authorisation of Individuals Regulations.

The applicant applied to vary the SDT’s restrictions such that they mirrored those of the respondent.

The applicant had been undertaking work for the firm since October 2017. During that time, there had been no regulatory concerns regarding his conduct. There was also no suggestion that he had failed to comply with the restrictions imposed on his practice by the SDT.

The applicant had demonstrated insight into his misconduct and had contributed to ensuring that the firm remained compliant with its legal and regulatory obligations. It was clear from the firm’s reference that it had policies and procedures in place to ensure compliance with the restrictions, preventing a repeat of any similar misconduct. The firm fully supported the applicant’s application and considered him to be an asset. Further, the application was supported by the respondent.

The application had been properly considered by the applicant in that he was only applying for the variation/removal of the conditions that were no longer considered to be necessary or appropriate. He was taking a sensible approach to his rehabilitation and was undertaking the necessary action to remediate his misconduct. Accordingly, the SDT granted the application to vary the conditions.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £725.

Edmunds & Co 

On 27 June, an adjudicator resolved to intervene into the remnants of the firm Edmunds & Co, formerly of 64 Britannia Way, Lichfield WS14 9UY. The firm closed in 2011.

The grounds of intervention were: it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of former clients (paragraph 32(1)(e) of Schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985).

The SRA will be making arrangements to collect the remaining practice papers relating to this firm.