Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)
Hearing 7 September 2021
Reasons 21 September 2021
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
Between March 2004 and October 2019, the respondent had caused or allowed payments in the total sum of about £1,167,061.97 to be made into and out of the firm’s client account other than in respect of an underlying legal transaction or part of his normal regulated activities, thus providing banking facilities through the firm’s client account, in breach of rule 15 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998, rule 14.5 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, rules 1(d) and 13 of the Solicitors Practice Rules 1990, rules 1.06 and 5 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007, and principles 6 and 8 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.
On or around 28 January 2021, the respondent had submitted a letter to the SRA which was false and misleading in that it was dated December 2014 and purported to be from the respondent’s clients at that date, whereas it had been created by the respondent on 21 January 2021, thereby breaching principles 2, 4 and 5 of the SRA Principles 2019. He had acted dishonestly.
The parties had invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and proposed outcome, submitting that the outcome proposed was consistent with the SDT’s Guidance Note on Sanctions.
The respondent’s dishonesty in seeking to mislead the regulator by creating a false document and involving a vulnerable client in doing so, placed his misconduct at the highest level such that a lesser sanction than strike-off but more serious than a fine would be inappropriate. The respondent had not advanced a case for exceptional circumstances, and the SDT had found none. It therefore agreed that strike-off would be a reasonable and proportionate sanction in the case.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £15,000.