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

Charles Valentine Fraser-Macnamara

Application 11859-2018

Admitted 1982

Hearing 25-27 March 2019

Reasons 8 May 2019

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

As the sole director of Ecohouse Developments Ltd (EDL), sole director of Black Country Legal Consultancy (BCLC) and director of Black Country Business Consultants Ltd (BCBC), the respondent had:

(i) caused and allowed misrepresentations to be made to potential investors in EDL to the effect that (a) EDL owned the land that would be developed, when EDL did not own such land (in respect of which he had been dishonest); (b) allowed misrepresentations to be made to potential investors in EDL to the effect that EDL was an approved supplier of housing under a Brazilian government scheme when it was not; (c) caused and allowed misrepresentations to be made to potential investors in EDL to the effect that funds invested in projects offered by EDL were secure when they were not (in respect of which he had been dishonest); (d) allowed misrepresentations to be made to potential investors in EDL to the effect that EDL was entitled to use the Olympic logo when it was not; and (e) allowed misrepresentations to be made to potential investors in EDL to the effect that EDL had been awarded ISO 9001 accreditation when it had not, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Principles 2011;

(ii) failed to maintain, preserve or deliver up adequate accounting records for EDL, thereby breaching principles 2, 6 and 7 (in respect of which he had been dishonest);

(iii) profited from, and misled members of the public into investing in EDL when he knew EDL was operating a Ponzi scheme, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6 (in respect of which he had been dishonest); and

(iv) involved himself in a dubious scheme, dubious transactions and/or caused or allowed transactions which bore the hallmarks of fraud and/or money laundering, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6 (in respect of which he had been dishonest).

The findings against the respondent, including dishonesty, were at the highest end of the spectrum regarding seriousness. The need to protect the public and the reputation of the profession required an order striking him off the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £22,725.

 Mark Henry David Payne

Application 11908-2018

Admitted 1987

Hearing 25 March 2019

Reasons 3 May 2019

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

The respondent had breached rules 1.02, 1.03, 1.04, 1.05 and 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007 and rule 22.1(e) of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998 by using a client’s (AG) funds to fund a personal investment without authority.

He had breached rules 1.02, 1.04 and 1.06 of the code, telling the firm’s accounts department that monies from AG’s ledger were to be used for an investment for AG’s sons when in fact he was using the monies to fund a personal investment.

He had breached rules 1.02, 1.03, 1.04, 1.05 and 1.06 of the code telling AG that he had invested money into AXA bonds on his behalf when he knew that was not true.

He had breached principles 2, 4, 5 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 by providing AG with false information and valuations for AXA bonds which he knew did not exist.

He had breached principles 2 and 6 by producing a letter to AXA (which was not sent) for the file, to mislead anyone reviewing the AG file into believing that he had contacted AXA when that was not true.

He had breached principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10 and rules 1.1, 1.2(c) and 20.1(f) of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 by using client funds of £670,000 relating to LR’s estate to purchase AXA bonds on the unrelated matter of AG without authority.

He had breached principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10 by creating and fabricating a letter purporting to state that Charles Russell Speechlys Solicitors LLP was representing AXA when he knew that was not true.

He had breached principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10 and rules 1.1, 1.2(c) and 20.1(f) of the 2011 rules by lending client BIL funds belonging to an unrelated client, LR’s estate, without authority.

He had breached principles 2 and 6 by informing the firm’s accounts department that he had received approval from a trustee of LR’s estate to invest in a company in Switzerland when he knew that was not true.

He had breached rules 1.02, 1.04, 1.05 and 1.06 of the code and rule 1(d) of the 2011 rules by using funds belonging to AG (TST), on an unrelated client matter of H, without authority.

He had breached rules 1.02, 1.04 and 1.06 of the code by producing a memo on the matter of AG, stating that AG had requested a transfer of funds for the purchase of a property when he knew that was not true.

In respect of all of the above the respondent had been dishonest .

The SDT was invited to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and indicated outcome. It was satisfied that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made, and that the appropriate sanction was for him to be struck from the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £12,406.

Robert Henry Foster

Application 11876-2018

Admitted 1978

Hearing 2 April 2019

Reasons 18 April 2019

 

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

Between 25 October and 1 November 2010 the respondent had prepared an enduring power of attorney (EPA) for his elderly client, BR, but had backdated it to 6 November 2003 and witnessed signatures as if the document had been completed on 6 November 2003, in breach of rules 1.01, 1.02 and 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007.  He had acted dishonestly.

By failing properly to advise his client that the EPA could not be legitimately registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and/or that it was invalid, he had breached rules 1.04, 1.05, 1.06 and 2.02(1)(b) of the code.

The respondent’s submissions that he did not stand to gain financially from backdating the EPA were accepted. His actions were planned. His conduct was aggravated by his proven dishonesty.

The creation of the document had been instigated by the respondent, who had known  (i) when he suggested using an EPA, (ii) when he prepared and dictated the document, and (iii) when he met with BR and AP, her proposed executor, for the document to be executed, that the document was not and could not be valid.

In mitigation, the respondent had made good the loss suffered by the estate of BR in reimbursing the legal fees it had incurred as a result of his misconduct. The respondent had demonstrated some insight into his conduct, had made open and frank admissions at an early stage and had cooperated with the applicant throughout.

Save in exceptional circumstances, a finding of dishonesty would almost invariably lead to being struck off the roll. It was submitted for the respondent that this case fell into the residual category.

The nature, circumstances and context of the respondent’s dishonesty were not such as to create exceptional circumstances so the proportionate and appropriate sanction was to strike the respondent from the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £7,942.

Clive Leslie Billington

Application 11879-2018

Admitted 1987

Hearing 9 April 2019

Reasons 28 May 2019

 

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

When acting on the purchase of a leasehold property, the respondent had breached rules 1.02, 1.03, 1.04, 1.05 and 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007 by failing to advise his lender client (a) that the transaction involved a sub-sale transaction, whereby his client P purchased the lease from Pt and sold it to N (also his client) at a lower price; (b) that the property had been purchased within the six months before it was acquired by N; (c) that the outstanding balance to complete the purchase was not coming from N but from JS Solicitors and Mrs P and that those monies were subsequently repaid to JSS and Mrs P; and (d) that, although it had provided a mortgage advance of £315,000, only £57,737.73 was in fact paid to the vendor, P.

When acting on the purchase of the freehold interest and the purported sale of the leasehold interest in the property, he had breached rules 1.02, 1.03, 1.04, 1.05 and 1.06 of the code by (a) transferring £97,000 to N prior to the completion of the sale of the property; and (b) failing to register a charge in favour of his lender client against the freehold, despite the fact that it had previously indicated that such a charge should be executed.

He had breached rules 1.02, 1.03, 1.04, 1.05, 1.06, 3.01(2)(a) and 3.07(2) of the code by acting where there was a conflict of interest.

He had breached rules 1.02 and 1.06 of the code by acting in transactions which bore the hallmarks of mortgage fraud.

By failing to apply all of the monies he received from the lender towards the purchase of the property, he had breached an undertaking given to the lender, thereby breaching rules 1.02, 1.04, 1.06, 1.06 and 10.5 of the code.

In respect of all of the above the respondent’s conduct was dishonest.

The parties’ application for approval of an agreed outcome was granted. The allegations had all been proved to the requisite standard.

The respondent’s misconduct, which included dishonesty, was very serious and there were no exceptional circumstances to warrant anything less than striking the respondent off the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £2,500.

Imtiaz Ali

Application 11518-2016

Hearing 16-17 April 2019

Reasons 29 May 2019

 The SDT ordered that the respondent (who had been granted foreign lawyer status in 1997) should be struck off the Register of Foreign Lawyers.

In breach of principles 2 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2011, the respondent had provided misleading information in an insurance proposal form dated 9 September 2011 about the firm’s gross fee income, and whether any fee-earner had practised in a firm subject to an investigation by the applicant.

In breach of principles 2 and 7, he had provided misleading information in an insurance proposal form dated 15 August 2014 about the firm’s gross fee income; the firm’s dealings with the applicant; whether any fee-earner in the firm had had an award made against him or her by the Legal Ombudsman; whether any fee-earner in the firm had entered into a regulatory settlement agreement with the applicant; and whether any fee-earner in the firm had ever been the subject of ‘an independent voluntary arrangement or other arrangement’. The respondent had acted dishonestly.

He had submitted an application for judicial review dated 12 December 2011 in which it was misleadingly asserted that his client SMH was ‘out of funds and therefore it was impossible for him to instruct his representative. He has recently arranged the funds and gave instructions straightaway. The application is being filed at the first opportunity’, thereby breaching principles 1, 2 and 6. The respondent had acted dishonestly.

The respondent’s misconduct was aggravated by the fact that the allegations included two instances of dishonest conduct, involved three incidents over an extended period of time and was deliberate.

While the medical evidence about the respondent’s ill-health, and the events in his personal life in 2011 had been noted, no plausible mitigation could be advanced.

The findings against the respondent, including dishonesty, required that he be struck off the Register of Foreign Lawyers. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £35,667.