Gwyn Eirug Davies, Richard Owen Williams, Sion Wyn Hughes, John Tudur Owen and Hywel Glyn Roberts
Application 11824-2018
Hearing 9 October 2018
Reasons 17 October 2018

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1985) should pay a fine of £7,500; that the second respondent (admitted 1989) should pay a fine of £5,000; that the third respondent (admitted 2000) should pay a fine of £2,500; that the fourth respondent (admitted 1984) should pay a fine of £7,500 and that the fifth respondent (admitted 1987) should pay a fine of £10,000.

During the period 6 October 2011 to 31 January 2016, being managers of Tudur Owen Roberts & Glynne & Co, the respondents had failed to ensure that client money in the sum of £4,961.25 was held in a client account of the firm, in breach of rules 1.1 and 14.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011.

They had failed to maintain adequate accounting records, in breach of rules 1.2(f) and 29.1 of the rules and principles 6 and 10.

They had failed to carry out adequate client account reconciliations for the firm and had failed to maintain proper accounting systems, in breach of rules 1.2(e), 29.12, 29.13 and 29.14 of the rules and principles 6, 8 and 10.

Further, during the period 6 October 2011 to 31 January 2016, being a manager of the firm, the fifth respondent had instructed and/or permitted the holding of office money (in the form of the VAT element of paid bills of costs totaling £70,500) in the firm’s client account in breach of rule 14.2 of the rules and principles 6, 8 and 10.

He had failed to ensure that money which had been paid into client account in breach of the rules was withdrawn from the client account promptly upon discovery, in breach of principles 6, 7, 8 and 10.

During the period 20 December 2012 to 31 January 2016, being the firm’s compliance officer for finance and administration, the fifth respondent had failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the firm’s regulatory obligations in respect of the rules, in breach of rule 8.5(e)(i)(A) of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011 and principle 8.

He had failed, as soon as reasonably practicable, to report to the SRA material failures to comply with the rules, in breach of rule 8.5(e)(iii) of the Authorisation Rules, principle 7, and outcome 10.3 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. 

The matter was dealt with by way of the agreed outcome procedure.

The SDT was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondents’ admissions had been properly made, and that the appropriate sanction in respect of each respondent was a fine. The misconduct was moderately serious, except in the case of the fifth respondent, who had had specific responsibilities as COFA at the material time.

The respondents were ordered to pay costs of £12,000, on a joint and several basis.

Helen Lydia Dugdale
Application
11819-2018
Admitted 1994
Hearing 4 October 2018
Reasons 16 October 2018 

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £15,000. 

Contrary to section 5(l)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the respondent had been convicted of driving a motor vehicle on a road after consuming so much alcohol that her alcohol levels exceeded the prescribed limits, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

Because the respondent’s practice included motoring offences she should have had greater insight into the perils of driving with excess alcohol and should have been more engaged with the risks as she had dealt with their consequences in her work. The fact this was the second time she had been convicted showed that it was misconduct continuing over a period of time and was an aggravating factor.

The respondent had voluntarily notified the regulator that she had been charged. She had an otherwise unblemished professional record. She had given evidence about seeking help.

Based on evidence about her personal circumstances which had been dealt with in private during the hearing, it would not be too strong to say that a combination of factors had plunged the respondent’s life into chaos at the time of the offence.

Although the SDT was concerned that there might be an increased risk of her once again using alcohol inappropriately were she to find herself in a similarly stressful situation, there was no expert evidence available to demonstrate that she currently suffered from a drink problem. 

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £3,571.

Tariq Majid
Application
11831-2018
Admitted 2010
Hearing 9 October 2018
Reasons 17 October 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £5,000.

By virtue of his conviction on 4 October 2016 for acting in breach of a restraining order imposed by Sheffield Crown Court on 15 April 2015, the respondent had breached principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

Between 2013 and 2016, the respondent had failed to notify the SRA of changes in his place of work or places of business before the expiration of 14 days from the date on which the changes took effect, in breach of principle 7 and section 84 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended).

The matter was dealt with by way of the agreed outcome procedure.

The SDTwas satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made. The misconduct included a criminal conviction and was moderately serious.

A fine of £5,000 was an appropriate sanction, having regard to the circumstances of the case and the respondent’s admissions.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £1,805.

Valerie Gail Walton-Knowles
Application
11788-2018
Admitted 1992
Hearing 4 October 2018
Reasons 15 October 2018 

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £15,000.

The respondent had recklessly permitted £102,058 relating to her caravan park and bed and breakfast business to be paid into and held in her firm’s client bank account without any underlying legal transaction, thereby breaching rules 1.2(a), 14.2 and 14.5 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, and principles 2, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011. 

She had withdrawn or permitted money to be withdrawn in the client matter of MH from her firm’s general client account in excess of the money held on behalf of that client, resulting in a cash shortage of £76.80, in breach of rule 20.6 of the rules.

She had withdrawn or permitted money to be withdrawn in the client matter of HH in respect of costs due to her firm otherwise than in accordance with rule 20.3 of the rules.

She had operated suspense client account ledgers otherwise than in the circumstances provided for by rules 32(6) and 29.25 of the rules, in breach thereof.

She had failed to carry out reconciliations in breach of rule 29.12 of the rules.

She had breached rule l.2(e) and 29.1 of the rules.

By failing to remedy breaches promptly upon discovery, she had breached rule 7.1 of the rules.

While acting as compliance officer for legal practice and compliance officer for finance and administration for her firm, she had failed to report as soon as reasonably practicable the material failures of that body to comply with obligations imposed upon it by the principles and the rules, thereby breaching rule 8.5(c)(iii) of the Solicitors Authorisation Rules 2011 and principle 7, and failing to achieve outcome (10.l) of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

The matter was dealt with by way of the agreed outcome procedure.

The respondent’s admissions had been properly made. The SDT was satisfied that a fine at the level proposed was the appropriate sanction, having regard to the seriousness of the allegations, including breach of principles and in respect of one allegation of recklessness.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £10,800.

Peter Hamilton Rollin
Application
11833-2018
Admitted 1969
Hearing 19 September 2018
Reasons 3 October 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

The respondent had practised as a sole practitioner between an unknown date in 2004 and December 2016 without registering his sole practice or obtaining authorisation to practise from the SRA and without indemnity insurance in breach of the following:

(from 2004 until June 2007) rules 1(a), 1(c) and 1(d) of the Solicitors Practice Rules 1990; and the Solicitors Indemnity Insurance Rules 2004 (and the Solicitors Indemnity Insurance Rules for the following years until 2007), in particular rule 2.5;

(from 1 July 2009 until 5 October 2011) rule 12.01 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007;

(from June 2007 until 5 October 2011) rules 1.2, 1.04, and 1.06 of the code; and the Solicitors Indemnity Insurance Rules 2007-2011;

(from 1 July 2009 until 5 October 2011) rule 20.03(1) of the code;

(from 6 October 2011) rules l(a) and 10.1 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011; principles 2, 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011; and the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2011 (and the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules for the following years until December 2016).

Further, he had failed to carry out regular client account reconciliations and failed to keep a daily cash journal, in breach of principles 2 and 6; and rules 29.l, 29.2 and 29.12 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011. 

The matter was dealt with by way of the agreed outcome procedure. 

The SDT was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made, and it accepted the assessment made by the parties of the appropriate sanction and approved their proposal. 

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £5,000.

Tyrone Anthony Joseph Walker
Application
11767-2017
Admitted 1985
Hearing 5 September 2018
Reasons 15 October 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

By virtue of his conviction on 22 February 2017 of seven counts of fraud, contrary to section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006, for which he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, the respondent had breached principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

It was the respondent’s third appearance before the SDT and he had received substantial fines on both of the previous occasions.

He had received a lengthy custodial sentence and had been convicted of fraud involving client funds. The SDT was therefore satisfied that he was a risk to the public.

The respondent’s conduct was of the utmost gravity as he had taken advantage of client funds when he should have been protecting them. To allow him to remain a member of the profession would undermine public confidence in it. The appropriate and proportionate sanction in the present case, to protect the public and maintain public confidence in the reputation of the profession, was to remove the respondent from the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay a fine of £1,800.

Alexander John Marks and Paul Elliott
Application
11762- 2017
Hearing 4, 5 September 2018
Reasons 4 October 2018

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1980) should be struck off the roll.

It further ordered that as from 5 September 2018 except in accordance with Law Society permission no solicitor should employ or remunerate the second respondent in connection with his practice as a solicitor; no employee of a solicitor should employ or remunerate the second respondent in connection with the solicitor’s practice; no recognised body should employ or remunerate the second respondent; no manager or employee of a recognised body should employ or remunerate the second respondent in connection with the business of that body; no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit the second respondent to be a manager of the body; and no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit the second respondent to have an interest in the body. The SDT further ordered the SRA to refer the second respondent’s conduct to his professional regulator.

1.1 While in practice as a solicitor and partner at Alexander Marks LLP (the firm) and while in practice as a solicitor and director at AEM Solicitors Ltd (the successor firm), the first respondent had dishonestly caused or allowed a cash shortage to arise in the firm’s and the successor firm’s client bank accounts, totaling up to or around £247,289.62, in breach of rule 20.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 2, 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

1.2 He had dishonestly caused or allowed improper transfers of costs from client to office accounts, in breach of rules l.2(a), 1.2(c), 20.l and 20.3 of the rules and principles 2, 4 and 6 of the principles.

1.3 He had dishonestly caused or allowed improper inter-ledger transfers in breach of rules l.2(c), 20.1 and 27.1 of the rules and principles 2, 4 and 6.

1.4 He had dishonestly failed promptly to return an overpayment of around £178,821, in breach of rules 7.1 and 14.3 of the rules and principles 2, 4 and 6.

2.1 While employed or self-employed as the firm’s bookkeeper, the second respondent had dishonestly undertaken or assisted in one or more of the improper transfers of costs referred to in 1.2 above, in breach of rules 1.2(a), 1.2(c), 20.1 and 20.3 of the rules and principles 2, 4 and 6.

2.2. He had dishonestly undertaken or assisted in one or more of the improper inter-ledger transfers referred to in 1.3 above, in breach of rules 1.2(c), 20.1 and 27.l of the rules and principles 2, 4 and 6.

2.3. He had failed to identify or escalate the overpayment referred to in 1.4 above, in breach of rules 7.1 and 14.3 of the rules and principles 4 and 6.

The first respondent had admitted all the allegations save dishonesty and should have some small credit for that but in the context of a sophisticated and prolonged teeming and lading scheme that had operated throughout his time at the firm it could weigh very little and was late in the day. He had shown no insight into what he had done and simply blamed adverse personal circumstances. There were no exceptional circumstances.

The second respondent had on occasion acted on instructions but email exchanges with the first respondent indicated that he had also been a driving force and a willing and active participant in the teeming and lading. The SDT was satisfied that a section 43 order should be made.

The first respondent was ordered to pay costs of £16,857. The second respondent was ordered to pay costs of £8,428.50.

Amit Kumar Manibhai Patel
Application
11841-2018
Admitted 1988
Hearing 12 September 2018
Reasons 1 October 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £12,500. 

In acting for his client BP in 2014 in relation to a property transaction, the respondent had recklessly failed to have sufficient regard for his duties under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and/or the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s warning notices on money laundering and terrorist financing, in breach of principles 6, 7 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011, and had failed to achieve outcome 7.5 of the SRA Handbook.

The matter was dealt with by way of the agreed outcome procedure.

The SDT was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made.

The respondent had admitted serious professional misconduct. As the compliance officer for legal practice, compliance officer for finance and administration and money laundering reporting officer for the firm, with personal conduct of the relevant property transaction and responsibility for the firm’s office manual, his culpability was high. He was directly responsible for ensuring money laundering regulatory compliance. There was a risk of harm to the profession and his conduct risked his client account being abused for money laundering purposes.

In all of the circumstances the SDT accepted the assessment made by the parties of the appropriate sanction and approved their proposal.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £9,100.

Huw Price
Application
11753-2017
Admitted 1993
Hearing 13, 14 August 2018
Reasons 2 October 2018 

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

The respondent had given false and misleading information to the SRA’s regulatory supervisor in a letter dated 14 September 2016, in a telephone conversation on 9 November 2016 and in an e-mail dated 17 February 2017, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2011 and outcomes 10.6 and 10.8 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. He had acted dishonestly.

He had given false and misleading information to the SRA’s forensic investigation officer, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 7 and outcome 10.6. He had acted dishonestly.

He had breached rules 29.1, 29.2 and 29.12 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, in breach of principles 4, 6 and 10.

He had breached rule 14.3 of the rules, thereby breaching principles 4, 6 and 10.

He had breached rule 7.1 of the rules, thereby breaching principles 4, 6 and 10.

From 7 August 2015 to 18 June 2017, he had practised without authorisation as a sole practitioner of Valleys Law Solicitors in breach of rule 10.1 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011 and outcome 10.13; and had failed to comply with conditions imposed on his practising certificates for the years 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, in breach of principles 7 and 8 and outcomes 10.2 and 10.13.

He had failed to notify the SRA that he was the subject of bankruptcy proceedings within seven days of the presentation of the petition and had thereby breached principle 7, outcome 10.3 and regulation 15.l(c) of the SRA Practising Regulations 2011.

He had failed to notify the SRA that he had been adjudged bankrupt on 23 May 2017 when he applied to have the suspension of his practising certificate for 2016/2017 lifted on 29 June 2017, or during the subsequent application process or upon receipt of the outcome, in breach of principles 2 and 7 and outcome 10.2. He had acted dishonestly.

He had failed to notify the SRA that he had been adjudged bankrupt on 23 May 2017 when he applied for a practising certificate for the practice year 2017/2018 and had thereby breached principles 2 and 7 and outcome 10.2. He had acted dishonestly.

Dishonesty had been found proved and the respondent’s actions had, at least to some extent, been deliberate. The misconduct had continued over a period of time. There was also prolonged concealment of wrongdoing.

The seriousness of the allegations with the findings of lack of integrity and dishonesty was such that a lesser sanction than strike-off would be inappropriate.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £24,030.

Brown Turner Ross Ltd, David Bushell and Kevin Ross
Application
11773-2018
Hearing 17-20 September 2018
Reasons 1 November 2018

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (an authorised body) and the second respondent (admitted 1977) should each pay a fine of £25,000, and that the third respondent (admitted 1998) should be suspended from practice for six months from 20 September 2018.

From around November 2012 until around November 2013, the third respondent had acted for G and had issued trust deeds to G’s customers, but had failed to inform the individual customer concerned in writing when issuing the trust deeds (i) that the first respondent was acting for G alone and not the individual concerned; (ii) that in issuing the trust deed, the first respondent had not determined whether the trust deed was appropriate for the individual concerned and/or would effect their wishes; (iii) that in issuing the trust deed, the first respondent was not assuring that the trust deed was appropriate for the individual concerned and/or would effect their wishes; and (iv) that the first respondent could not provide the individual concerned with advice on the effectiveness of the trust deed or on any financial or other implications, and that the individuals concerned might wish to seek independent legal advice before signing the trust deed, thereby breaching principles 2, 3 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and failing to meet outcome 11.1 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

On one or more occasions from November 2012 onwards, when the first, second and third respondents became aware of concerns about the information being provided to G’s customers, or generally about G, they had failed to take adequate steps to satisfy themselves that G was providing accurate information to its customers, and to cease acting for G if they could not be satisfied that G was providing accurate information to its customers, in breach of principles 2, 3 and 6.

The respondents’ actions while inadequate were not deliberate. The motivation was not financial gain. The misconduct arose from omissions and failing to take adequate steps. 

The third respondent’s default was the most significant. An immediate term of six months’ suspension from practice reflected the seriousness of his conduct.

The findings proved against the second respondent were very serious, but the fact that his delegation of client G and the work to an experienced director was appropriate meant that a fine was the appropriate sanction.

The same fine should be imposed on the first respondent as had been imposed on the second respondent for the same proved breaches.

The first, second and third respondents were ordered to pay, on a joint and several basis, costs of £40,000.

Luke Stephen Venton
Application
11690-2017
Admitted 2012
Hearing 13 February, 26 September 2018
Reasons 9 November 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

By virtue of his convictions for driving a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol and being in possession of a controlled class B drug, the respondent had acted in breach of principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

He had failed to notify the SRA of the criminal convictions described above and had therefore acted in breach of principle 7 and had failed to achieve outcome 10.3 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

His behaviour in using offensive, inappropriate, insulting and threatening language in emails to the SRA, other solicitors and third parties was a breach of principles 2, 6 and 7 of principles.

By virtue of his conviction of having in his possession a fixed-blade knife in a public place without good reason or lawful authority, contrary to section 139(1) and (6) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, the respondent had breached principles 1, 2 and 6.

The seriousness of the respondent’s misconduct was at the highest level, such that a lesser sanction than strike-off was inappropriate. There was no evidence which allowed the conclusion that that sanction should be reduced either due to exceptional circumstances or because the misconduct had arisen at a time when the respondent was affected by physical or mental ill-health that affected his ability to conduct himself to the standards of a reasonable solicitor.

If at any time the respondent applied for his name to be restored to the roll the present division of the SDT, whilst mindful it could not bind a future division, considered that any such application should be supported by medical evidence.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £7,000.

Abosede Akinleye (Aka Panama and Adams)
Application
11810-2018
Admitted 2001
Hearing 2 October 2018
Reasons 29 October 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

By virtue of her conviction of fraud by false representation under section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006, a criminal offence of dishonestly making false representation to make gain for herself/another or cause loss to other/expose other to risk the respondent had breached principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

The respondent’s misconduct had involved the commission of a criminal offence namely fraud. The misconduct had been a one-off but it had been deliberate. The respondent knew or ought reasonably to have known that the conduct complained of was in material breach of her obligations to protect the public and the reputation of the legal profession.

The respondent had voluntarily notified the regulator and the misconduct was a single episode in a previously unblemished career. However, she had not shown any genuine insight. The misconduct was very serious.

The protection of the public and the protection of the reputation of the legal profession required the respondent’s name to be struck off the roll.

There were no exceptional circumstances which meant that that sanction should be reduced.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £3,300.

Davinder Singh Bal
Application
11777-2018
Admitted 1997
Hearing 18, 19 September 2018
Reasons 30 October 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for one year from 19 October 2018. When that fixed term of suspension expired, the respondent should be subject to the following conditions for a further period of three years. He might not (i) practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body without the approval of the SRA; (ii) be a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice or alternative business structure or other authorised or recognised body without the approval of the SRA; (iii) be a compliance officer for legal practice, head of legal practice, compliance officer for finance and administration or a head of finance and administration; (iv) hold client money or (v) be a signatory on any client account, with liberty to apply to vary those conditions.

On 30 October 2015 a shortage of £103,370.73 existed upon the client account of DBS Law Ltd, a licensed body of which the respondent was a principal, which remained unremedied as at 22 November 2016 (at the earliest). In consequence the respondent had breached principles 7 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rule 7 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

Between 19 August 2011 and 10 August 2015, the firm had received payments of commission in relation to the referral of clients to a total of £154,396.95 from Accident Exchange into its office account. In consequence, the respondent had breached principle 7 and rule 14.l of the rules. 

On or about January 2016, the respondent had approved pro forma correspondence to be sent to clients of the firm which contained inadequate information concerning their entitlement to payments of commission received by it from Accident Exchange. In consequence, he had breached principles 2, 4 and 6 and had failed to achieve outcome 6.2 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

(Originally, the proceedings had also related to Robin Dranath Bhol. However, the applicant and Mr Bhol had reached an agreed outcome which was considered by a different division of the SDT and approved on 26 July 2018.)

The seriousness of the misconduct was such that there was a need to protect both the reputation of the profession and the public by removing the respondent’s ability to practice, but striking off was not justified. A one-year fixed term of suspension was the appropriate sanction.

The fact that this was the respondent’s second appearance before the SDT for similar matters was troubling. Restrictions on the respondent’s practice were necessary.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £10,387.

Joanne Power 
Application 11779-2018
Admitted 2002
Hearing 24, 25 September 2018
Reasons 23 October 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll. 

While in practice as a sole principal at Diamonds Legal LLP, the respondent had failed to provide adequate or accurate information to clients about likely overall costs at the outset of matters or throughout the conduct of them where required, thereby breaching principles 2, 5 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and failing to achieve outcome 1.13 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

She had failed to provide adequate or accurate information to clients about the basis of calculation of costs where required, thereby breaching principles 2, 5 and 6 and failing to achieve outcome 1.13.

She had transferred sums from the firm’s client account to office account in respect of her fees otherwise than in accordance with rules 17.2 and 20.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, in breach of principles 2, 5 and 6. She had acted dishonestly. 

She had made transfers from client account to office account of sums which were in excess of those which might properly be charged for the work undertaken, which did not reflect the work actually undertaken, and which were not fair and reasonable, in breach of principles 2 and 6. She had acted dishonestly. 

She had provided misleading information to beneficiaries as to the reasons for delay in distributing the proceeds of an estate, in breach of principles 2 and 6. She had acted dishonestly.

She had occupied, for her personal use and without the knowledge or consent of her client, premises acquired for investment purposes on behalf of an estate client, in breach of principles 2, 4, 6 and 10. She had acted dishonestly.

The misconduct found proved was at the most serious end of matters that came before the SDT. The appropriate sanction was strike-off. There were no exceptional circumstances.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £46,646.

Sleigh Son & Booth
Application
11811-2018
Hearing 3 October 2018
Reasons 22 October 2018 

The SDT ordered that the respondent (a recognised body) should pay a fine of £2,000.

The respondent had acted on behalf of both the vendor and the purchaser in eight conveyancing transactions which had been conducted at arm’s length between unconnected persons in which one or the other of the vendor or purchaser had not given their informed written consent to the respondent so acting, thereby breaching principles 4 and 6 of the principles and failing to achieve outcome 3.5 of the code.

It had acted on behalf of both the vendor and the purchaser in 14 conveyancing transactions where it had also acted as the selling agent for the vendor, creating a conflict of interests, and thereby breaching principles 4 and 6 and failing to achieve outcome 3.4.

It had acted for both the vendor and the purchaser in nine property transactions without advising either or both that it also acted for the other, in breach of principles 4, 5 and 6.

It had acted for both the vendor and purchaser in 15 property transactions without advising its lender client of the position, in breach of principles 4, 5 and 6.

The respondent had implemented systems to manage risks and potential risks of conflict, but those systems were not adequate.

The respondent had not intended to breach the rules. The types of cases with which the allegations were concerned amounted to only one per cent of the respondent’s cases, and no identifiable loss had been caused.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £20,466.

Simon Christopher Heaney, Ruth Kearns and Tracy Ann Winstanley
Application
11835-2018
Hearing 17 October 2018
Reasons 5 November 2018 

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1998) should pay a fine of £20,000; and that the second respondent (admitted 1999) and third respondent (admitted 2002) should each pay a fine of £10,000.

Further, the SDT ordered that each respondent should be subject to a restriction order that they might not act as a manager or owner of any authorised body, act as a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration, be signatory to any client or office account, or have responsibility for client or office account or responsibility for authorising client or office transfers, with liberty to apply.

While directors at Heaney Watson Limited, the respondents had, between 2013 and 2017, caused or allowed the retention in the firm’s office bank account of client monies, received from the Legal Aid Agency for payment of unpaid disbursements, resulting in a shortage of £39,233.37, in breach of rule 19.1(b) of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 2, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011.

They had failed to remedy on discovery the shortfall on the firm’s client account arising from the breaches of the rules promptly or at all, in breach of rule 7.1 thereof and principles 2 and 6.

They had failed to notify the SRA promptly that the firm was in serious financial difficulty from approximately early 2016, thereby breaching principle 7 and failing to achieve outcome 10.3 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

The matter was dealt with by way of the agreed outcome procedure.

The respondents had all admitted serious misconduct including conduct lacking integrity. The motivation for the conduct was the state of the firm’s finances at the relevant time. The culpability of all three respondents was high.

The period of time over which the misconduct had continued was an aggravating factor. All respondents had co-operated with the applicant’s investigation, made admissions and demonstrated insight into the seriousness of the misconduct.

A reduction in the fines payable by the second and third respondents had been proposed to take into account their current financial circumstances. In all of the circumstances, given the practising restrictions which were not time limited in addition to the proposed fines, the SDT accepted the assessment made by the parties of the appropriate sanction and approved their proposal.

The first respondent was ordered to pay costs of £5,000. The second and third respondents were each ordered to pay costs of £2,500.

John Rothesay Mackenzie and David John Summerscales
Application
11791-2018
Hearing 31 October 2018
Reasons 31 October 2018

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1971) should pay a fine of £4,000, and that the second respondent (admitted 1988) should pay a fine of £10,000.

The SDT further ordered that each respondent should be subject to the following conditions: that he might not (i) be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; (ii) hold, receive or have access to client money; (iii) be a signatory on any client account or office account or have the power to authorise electronic transfers from any client account or office account; (iv) apply to the SDT to vary or rescind the restrictions within the period of five years (first respondent) or three years (second respondent) of the date of the order, with liberty to apply to vary those conditions.

During his period of acting as a partner of Redferns Solicitors, after 1 December 2013, the first respondent had not maintained proper controls over the accounting systems.

Between October 2015 and November 2016, he had failed to prepare any or any adequate client account reconciliation statements every five weeks.

From January 2014, he had caused or allowed the suspense account named ‘MH misc’ to be used inappropriately.

From January 2016, he had failed to keep proper accounting records to show accurately the position with regard to the money held for each client and trust.

From 2014, in his capacity as the COFA at the firm, he had failed to ensure or take adequate steps to ensure compliance with the firm’s regulatory obligations under the Solicitors Accounts Rules 2011 or report material non-compliance with the firm’s obligations to the SRA as soon as reasonably practicable.

A a consequence, he had breached: rules 1.2(e), 1.2(f), 29.1, 29.2, 29.12 and 29.25 of the 2011 Rules, principles 6 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rule 8.5 of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011.

During his period of acting as a partner of the firm, from 2014- 2016, the second respondent had not maintained proper controls over the accounting systems.

Between October 2015 and 28 November, he had failed to prepare any or any adequate client account reconciliation statements every five weeks; 

From January 2014, he had caused or allowed suspense accounts to be used Inappropriately.

From January 2016, he had failed to keep proper accounting records to show accurately the position with regard to the money held for each client and trust.

As a consequence, he had breached rules 1.2(e), 1.2(f), 29.1, 29.2, 29.12 and 29.25 of the 2011 Rules and principles 6 and 8.

The matter was dealt with by way of the agreed outcome procedure.

The SDT had reviewed all the material before it and was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondents’ admissions had been properly made.

The level of fine and the restrictions proposed for each respondent was appropriate and proportionate having regard to their individual levels of culpability and their means.

The first respondent was more culpable, and a fine of £12,000 was appropriate and proportionate in his case, but that sum would be reduced to £4,000 to reflect his limited means. A fine of £10,000 adequately reflected the lesser culpability of the second respondent.

The first respondent was ordered to pay £3,000 costs, and the second respondent £15,100.

Diljit Bachada
Application
11866-2018
Admitted 2001
Hearing 31 October 2018
Reasons 31 October 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

On 20 July 2017 the respondent was convicted after trial of two counts of fraud by false representation and two counts of committing acts with intent to pervert the course of justice, and had thereby acted in breach of principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. She was sentenced to a total of four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

The matter was dealt with by way of the agreed outcome procedure.

The SDT was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made.

Given the nature of the matters of which the respondent had been convicted, the only appropriate sanction was to strike her off the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £1,650.