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; the second respondent (admitted 1989) should pay a fine of £5,000; the third respondent (admitted 2000) should pay a fine of £2,500; the fourth respondent (admitted 1984) should pay a fine of £7,500; and 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He had failed to ensure that money which had been paid into client account in breach of the rules was withdrawn from the client account promptly upon discovery, in breach of principles 6, 7, 8 and 10.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 to report to the SRA, as soon as reasonably practicable, 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.

Azhar Islam Khan
Application 11787-2018
Admitted 2001
Hearing 30 October 2018
Reasons 26 November 2018

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

The respondent had been convicted of cheating the public revenue and of two counts of being knowingly concerned in fraudulent evasion of tax, and had thereby breached principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. 

The respondent’s misconduct was aggravated as it involved criminal offences which were offences of dishonesty. The respondent’s misconduct had been calculated, deliberate and had continued over a period of time. 

In mitigation, the respondent had voluntarily notified the regulator and had kept it informed of the proceedings from the outset. He had no previous disciplinary matters before the SDT. However, he had not shown any genuine insight.

The protection of the public and the protection of the reputation of the legal profession required that the respondent’s name be struck off the roll. There were no exceptional circumstances such that this sanction should not be imposed. 

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £5,043. 

Keith Alan Shaw
Application 11852-2018
Admitted 2006
Hearing 9 October 2018
Reasons 26 November 2018

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

On 13 November 2017, the respondent had pleaded guilty and been convicted of one count of fraud by false misrepresentation (contrary to sections 1 and 2 of the Fraud Act 2006) and five counts of making false instruments, namely letters and emailed letters (contrary to sections 1 and 6 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981), and had thereby breached principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

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

The SDT was satisfied, having regard to the respondent’s convictions, that one of those convictions explicitly required a finding of dishonesty. The SDT agreed with the factors set out in the statement of agreed facts and indicated outcome, and had concluded that there were no exceptional circumstances in the case such that striking off would be disproportionate. 

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

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.

Glen Bartlett
Application 11822-2018
Admitted 1981
Hearing 18 September 2018
Reasons 24 October 2018

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

The respondent had been convicted of 10 counts of buggery (in relation to person A) and two counts of indecent assault on a male (in relation to person B), in breach of principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. 

He had been sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment, being a custodial sentence of 20 years and an extended licence period of one year; ordered to be placed on the Barring List by the Disclosure and Barring Service; and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely.

The respondent had been convicted of criminal offences and his misconduct had been deliberate, calculated and repeated. It had continued over a period of time and he had taken advantage of two vulnerable people. He had concealed his wrongdoing. 

The extent of the impact of the harm on persons A and B was substantial. Those were aggravating factors. The only mitigating factor was that the respondent had cooperated with the investigating body. 

Strike-off was the appropriate penalty if the SDT determined that the seriousness of the misconduct was at the highest level, such that a lesser sanction was inappropriate and the protection of the public and/or the reputation of the legal profession required it. There was no other possible sanction in the present case. 

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £3,132. 

Sarah Constance Isabella Ferdinand
Application 11784-2018
Admitted 1979
Hearing 16, 17 October 2018
Reasons 27 November 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for three months from 14 November 2018 at 4.00pm to expire on 14 February 2019. 

The respondent had failed to run her business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound risk management principles, in breach of principles 6 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rules 1.2(e) and (f), 29.1, 14.3, 17.3 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

She had acted where there was a conflict (or significant risk of a conflict) between her own interests and those of her clients, in breach of principles 3 and 4, and had failed to achieve outcome 3.4 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

She failed to carry out proper reconciliations, in breach of rules 29.12 and 29.13 of the rules. 

She had made payments from eight separate client ledgers in excess of funds held for those clients, in breach of principle 10 and rules 20.06 and 20.9 of the rules.

She had failed to replace a shortage on the firm’s client account, arising from breaches of the rules promptly, in breach of rules 7.1 and 7.2 of the rules and principles 2 and 6. 

She had failed to comply with an undertaking given to Bloomsbury Law, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 8, and had failed to achieve outcome 11.2. She had acted recklessly.

She had failed to comply with an undertaking given to Hodgkinsons Solicitors, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 8, and had failed to achieve outcome 11.2. She had acted recklessly.

She had failed to cooperate with the SRA in breach of principle 7. 

The circumstances were significantly chaotic. That had created a domino effect and to that extent the misconduct had been spontaneous. The SDT had made findings of lack of integrity and recklessness on the part of a very experienced solicitor.

The appropriate sanction in all the circumstances was a short period of suspension. 

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £27,500. 

JL Solicitors

On 17 December 2018, the SRA intervened into the practice of Fong-On Joshua Lau, practising as JL Solicitors, AW House, 6-8 Stuart Street, Luton LU1 2SJ. 

The ground for intervention was:

  • it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of Lau’s clients or former clients.

Lau’s practising certificate has not been suspended as a result of the intervention.

James Dunn of Devonshires Solicitors LLP has been appointed as the intervention agent. His contact details are: Devonshires Solicitors LLP, 30 Finsbury Circus, London EC2M 7DT; tel: 020 7065 1830; email: james.dunn@devonshires.co.uk.

Deakin & Co

On 5 December 2018, the SRA intervened into the practice of Stephen Deakin, practising as Deakin & Co, 42 Church Street, Leigh WN7 1AZ. 

The grounds for intervention were: 

  • Deakin had failed to comply with the SRA Principles 2011 and Code of Conduct 2011; 
  • Deakin was made bankrupt on 4 July 2018; 
  • It was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients or former clients of Deakin. 

Deakin’s practising certificate was suspended as a result of his bankruptcy. 

Sean Joyce of Stephensons has been appointed as intervention agent. His contact details are: Stephensons, Wigan Investment Centre, Waterside Drive, Wigan WN3 5BA; tel: 0333 344 4776; email: sraenquiries@stephensons.co.uk.