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

Matthew Neil Richard Duncan

Application 11890-2018

Admitted 1998

Hearing 19 June 2019

Reasons 2 July 2019

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

The respondent had caused a payment of £7,500 to be made to client A out of the assets of the estate of the late AB in accordance with the instructions given by client A in her capacity as the administratrix of the estate where (a) the grant by which client A derived title to the estate did not permit her to make payments out of the estate (at all); (b) he knew that that payment was not permitted by the terms of that grant; and (c) he had not fully advised client A upon the terms of the grant and the risks associated with making payments which were in breach of administration, thereby breaching principles 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

He had made further payments of £825,542.46 to, or for the benefit of, client A out of the assets of the estate for expenses in accordance with the instructions given by client A in her capacity as administratrix where he had not first fully advised client A upon the risks associated with making payments, thereby breaching principle 6.

He had failed to keep safe the sum of £500 entrusted to him by client B, thereby breaching principle 10 and rule 14.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

The parties invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and proposed outcome.

The respondent’s misconduct had arisen from errors he had made: there was no malign motive for his misconduct. While the misconduct was not deliberate, the respondent had jeopardised client A’s position in circumstances where he had not fully advised her of the risks. The misconduct was aggravated by the amounts that had been transferred. In mitigation, it was an isolated incident of short duration in an otherwise unblemished career.

Having determined that the proposed sanction was appropriate and proportionate, the application for matters to be resolved by way of the agreed outcome was granted.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £7,500.

Stuart Anthony Kaufman

Application 11494-2016

Admitted 1981

Hearing 6-7 November 2018, 15-17 January, 19 March, 30 April and 7 June 2019

Reasons 3 July 2019

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

The respondent had allowed the client account of Kaufman Legal Ltd to be utilised by MB to receive and pay monies where there was no underlying legal transaction, thereby breaching rule 14.5 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

In dealing with MB he had failed to apply appropriate customer due diligence measures in accordance with his obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 thereby breaching (or failing to achieve) principles 6 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2011 and outcome O(7.5) of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

He had allowed the firm’s client account to be utilised by MF to receive and pay monies where there was no underlying legal transaction thereby breaching rule 14.5 of the 2011 rules.

In dealing with MF, he had failed to apply appropriate customer due diligence measures in accordance with his obligations under the 2007 regulations thereby breaching (or failing to achieve) principles 6 and 7 and outcome O(7.5).

He had entered into an agreement on behalf of the firm requiring the practice to be conducted subject to the direction of CK and SG, neither of whom was an admitted person, thereby breaching principles 2, 3 and 6. He had acted dishonestly.

By agreeing to act as an escrow agent on behalf of both AIG and MB and receiving payments in respect of the purported purchase and sale of Krugerrands into the firm’s client account he had facilitated dubious investment transactions on behalf of AIG, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6. He had acted dishonestly.

He had acted for both AIG and MB in relation to that joint venture participation agreement, thereby breaching principles 2, 4 and 6 and failing to achieve outcome O(3.5). He had acted dishonestly.

He had withdrawn client monies in the sum of €47,500 held upon the firm’s client account pursuant to an escrow agreement made between the firm, AIG and MB otherwise than in accordance with the terms thereof, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6 and rule 20.1 of the 2011 rules. He had acted dishonestly.

By agreeing to act as an escrow agent on behalf of both Consus Consulting Ltd and MF to secure purported bank instruments and receiving payments in respect of their purported purchase into the firm’s client account, he had facilitated dubious investment transactions, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6. He had acted dishonestly.

He had acted for both Consus Consulting Ltd and MF in relation to that agreement, thereby breaching principles 2, 4 and 6 and failing to achieve outcome O(3.5). He had acted dishonestly.

[The SDT ordered that a further eight allegations would be stayed and would lie on the file, not to be proceeded with other than with leave of the SDT.]

The respondent had allowed himself to be taken advantage of. He was in some regards a perfect target, struggling as he was with illness and financial difficulties. He should have known from the start that what he was doing was wrong. He had clearly intended to benefit financially from the arrangements.

The appropriate and proportionate sanction was that he be struck off the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £24,136.

New Hampton Law

On 17 July 2019, the adjudication panel resolved to intervene into the above-named former sole practice of Stephen Roy Loftus (deceased), formerly based at 60-64 Great Hampton Street, Hockley, Birmingham B18 6EL.

Mr Loftus died on 30 April 2013. The firm was closed on 1 May 2013. The ground for intervention was: it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of the former clients of Mr Loftus.

No intervention agent has been appointed.

The SRA will be making arrangements to take possession of the archived files.

The intervention letter and notice were served on the personal representatives of Mr Loftus on 17 July 2019.