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

Richard Charles Prescott
Application 11783-2018
Admitted 2004
Hearing 12-14 November 2018
Reasons 28 November 2018

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

On 30 October 2016 a shortage of at least £149,126.54 had existed on the respondent’s firm’s client account, which had remained unremedied as at 15 May 2017, in breach of principles 7 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rule 7 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

During the period May 2009 to 4 July 2017 the respondent had breached rules 14.2, 17.1(c), 17.2, 20.1, 20.3, 29.1, 29.2 and 29.4 of the rules and principle 10.

On 1 December 2014 the respondent had incorrectly effected or permitted a transfer from client account to office account of £2,089.75 comprising residual estate funds of client CB, contrary to rules 17.2 and 20.3 of the 2011 rules and principles 2 and 6.

On or around 23 February 2016 and 31 October 2016 he had borrowed at least £44,690.84 from client RR’s interim damages, in breach of principles 2, 3, 4 and 10 and outcome 3.4 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

Between 9 July and 4 September 2009, he had provided loans of an indeterminate amount to his client O while acting for him in a personal injury matter, in breach of rule 3.01 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007.

Having received monies for the purpose of discharging professional disbursements, he had failed either to pay those disbursements to the appropriate recipients and/or transfer the monies from office to client account, in breach of rule 17.1(1)(b) and (c) of the 2011 rules and principles 2 and 6. He had acted dishonestly.

On dates including 6 May and 25 August 2016, in the course of litigation, he had filed defences (endorsed by statements of truth) which were disingenuous and misleading, contrary to principles 2 and 6 and outcome 5.1. He had acted dishonestly.

From 21 March 2016, by failing to pay counsel’s fees, the firm was added to the Bar Council’s List of Defaulting Solicitors and Other Authorised Persons, in breach of principles 6 and 8.

On a date before 11 December 2013, he had failed to serve one or more claim forms on behalf of client A in county court proceedings, resulting in client A’s claim being struck out and costs being awarded against him, in breach of principles 4 and 5.

Between 15 February 2017 and 23 March 2017, without obtaining the authorisation of his co-beneficiaries and co-executors, his sisters A and B, he had arranged for the transfer of £14,656.77 from his deceased mother’s estate from a Barclays Bank account into the firm’s client account; and/or without informing his sisters as to the movement of the money, he had transferred at least £14,656.77 from client account to office account, in breach of principles 2 and 6.

The respondent’s motivation had been to keep the firm in business. His conduct had caused harm to the reputation of the profession.

There were no exceptional circumstances in the case. The only appropriate and proportionate sanction was to order that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £32,000.

Olusegun Afolayan-Jejeloye
Application 11842-2018
Admitted 2011
Hearing 13 November 2018
Reasons 4 December 2018

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

Between December 2016 and February 2018 the respondent had practised as a sole practitioner through the firm of Michael James Solicitors Ltd and subsequently as Micmatt Solicitors Ltd trading as Michael James Solicitors, knowing that the firms had not been authorised by the SRA, in breach of rule 10.1 of the Practice Framework Regulations 2011; rule 5.1 of the Solicitors Indemnity Insurance Rules 2013 and outcome 1.8 of the SRA Handbook; rule 29 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011; section 14 of the Legal Services Act 2007; and principles 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had acted dishonestly.

He had made misleading applications for authorisation of Micmatt Solicitors to the SRA on 24 January 2017 and 20 December 2017 indicating that he wished to commence providing legal services on a date in the future when in fact he had already started providing legal services in December 2016 through Michael James Solicitors and subsequently through Micmatt Solicitors on or around the 17 January 2017, in breach of principles 2 and 6. He had acted dishonestly.

There was no evidence of specific harm to an individual client. However the potential for harm had been significant as he had been practising without authorisation or professional indemnity insurance.

The most serious aspect of the case was the respondent’s dishonesty. The misconduct was at the highest level and the only appropriate sanction was a strike-off. This had been a sustained period of serious misconduct in a wide range of areas.

There were no exceptional circumstances that would make such an order unjust in the present case.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £9,034.  

Mark Smith and Kathleen Wilson
Application 11790-2018
Hearing 16 October 2018
Reasons 26 November 2018

 The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 2009) and the second respondent (admitted 2008) should each pay a fine of £7,500. It further ordered that each respondent should, for three years, be subject to the following conditions: that neither respondent may (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; (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; (vi) practise as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The respondents must inform any prospective employer of the existence of the above conditions and the reasons for them, with liberty to either party to apply to vary those conditions.

The respondents had failed to comply with rules 1.2(e) and (f), 29.1(a) and 29.12 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and had failed to remedy those breaches promptly upon discovery, in breach of rule 7. They had thereby breached principles 6 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2011.

The respondents had further breached principles 4, 8 and 10 and had failed to achieve outcome O(7.4) of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

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

The respondents had become directors in a firm but had failed to carry out their own proper due diligence before doing so. They had acted naively and found themselves in a situation where there were a number of serious concerns with the accounts of the firm relating to events which had taken place before their involvement with it.

They had cooperated fully with the regulator. The accounting records at the firm had been hopelessly inadequate and, in the absence of any meaningful figures, the true financial position could not be ascertained. Losses of £353,974.96 had led to claims on the Compensation Fund.

The respondents were ordered to pay costs of £10,000, on the basis of joint and several liability.

Younus Desai
Application 11754-2017
Admitted 2009
Hearing 10-12 September 2018
Reasons 3 December 2018

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

During a medical consultation between a doctor and his client for the purposes of preparing an expert report in relation to a personal injury matter, the respondent had improperly attempted to influence the evidence of an expert witness and had thereby breached principle 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

The respondent had attempted to improperly influence an SRA investigation by seeking to influence the responses to be given by DJ, his then partner, to the SRA’s information requests and had thereby breached principles 2, 6 and 7 and failed to achieve outcomes 10.6 and 10.7 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. He had acted dishonestly.

The respondent’s motivation for attending the medical consultation and seeking to influence the evidence presented to the expert was to enhance his client’s case. There was no direct personal benefit to be obtained. His motivation for seeking to influence DJ’s answers to the SRA, however, was to reduce the likelihood of disciplinary action which he feared would otherwise be taken against him.

The medical expert had been placed in a professionally uncomfortable position and the respondent’s client, a minor, had risked having to undergo a second medical consultation in the event that the first one had been invalidated by the respondent’s actions.

Further, trust and confidence in the system of jointly instructed experts was seriously undermined by solicitors unilaterally attending without notice, and even more by overt efforts to influence the evidence of the expert.

There were no exceptional factors such that the normal penalty of striking-off in a case involving dishonesty would be inappropriate.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £20,261.

Charles James Ete practising as Charles Ete & Co Solicitors

 On 8 January 2019 the adjudication panel intervened into the above-named practice of Mr Charles James Ete at Charles Ete & Co Solicitors. The firm’s practice address is 19 Thames Road, Barking, Essex, IG11 0HN.

The grounds for intervention into Mr Ete were:

  • There is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Mr Ete;
  • Mr Ete had failed to comply with rules made under sections 31 and 32 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended). 

The grounds for intervention into Charles Ete & Co Solicitors were:

  • There is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Mr Ete as a manager of Charles Ete & Co Solicitors
  • Mr Ete, as a manager of Charles Ete & Co Solicitors, and the firm itself have failed to comply with the rules applicable to them by virtue of section 9 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985.

Mr Ete’s practising certificate was suspended as a result of the intervention decision.

The SRA has instructed James Dunn of Devonshires Solicitors LLP as the intervention agent. Mr Dunn’s contact details are: Devonshires Solicitors LLP, 30 Finsbury Circus, London EC2M 7DT, tel: 0207 065 1830; email: intervention-team@devonshires.co.uk

 Charles James Ete practising as Pride Solicitors Ltd

On 8 January 2019 the panel  intervened into the above-named practice of Mr Charles James Ete at Pride Solicitors Ltd. The firm’s practice address is Unit 12, West Point, 328 Bath Road, Hounslow, TW4 7HW.

The grounds for intervention into Mr Ete were:

  • There is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of an employee of Mr Ete, namely Mr Daniel Li Anafi, in connection with Mr Ete’s practice at Pride Solicitors Ltd;
  • Mr Ete failed to comply with rules made under sections 31 and 32 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended).

The grounds for intervention into Pride Solicitors Ltd were:

  • There is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of an employee of Pride Solicitors Ltd, namely Mr Daniel Li Anafi, in connection with that body’s business;
  • Mr Ete, as a manager of Pride Solicitors Ltd and the firm itself, failed to comply with the rules applicable to them by virtue of section 9 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985.

Mr Ete’s practising certificate was suspended as a result of the intervention decision.

The SRA instructed James Dunn of Devonshires Solicitors LLP as the intervention agent (details above).