Alan George Hutson and Rachel Mary Hutson

  • Application 11531-2016
  • Hearing 7, 8 February 2017
  • Reasons 24 March 2017

The SDT ordered that as from 8 February 2017 except in accordance with Law Society permission:

(i) no solicitor should employ or remunerate, in connection with his practice as a solicitor either the first respondent or the second respondent;

(ii) no employee of a solicitor should employ or remunerate, in connection with the solicitor’s practice either the first respondent or the second respondent;

(iii) no recognised body should employ or remunerate either the first respondent or the second respondent;

(iv) no manager or employee of a recognised body should employ or remunerate either the first respondent or the second respondent in connection with the business of that body;

(v) no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit either the first respondent or the second respondent to be a manager of the body;

(vi) no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit either the first respondent or the second respondent to have an interest in the body.

The SDT further ordered that the first and second respondents should each pay a fine of £10,000.

Having been employed or remunerated by solicitors, but not being solicitors, the respondents had in the opinion of the SRA occasioned or been party to, with or without the connivance of the solicitor by whom they were employed or remunerated, acts or defaults in relation to legal practices which involved conduct by them of such a nature that in the opinion of the SRA it would be undesirable for them to be involved in a legal practice in one or more of the ways mentioned in section 43(1)(A) of the Solicitors Act 1974 as amended, in that:

(a) they had participated in the misuse of funds received by Rohrer & Co Solicitors from the Axiom Legal Financing Fund and in so doing had acted dishonestly;

(b) they had improperly made payments from Rohrer which were paid to the respondents, whether to themselves directly or to companies they owned or controlled and in so doing had acted dishonestly;

(c) they had exerted an inappropriate level of control over the activities of the firm.

The respondents were equally culpable. They had been motivated by financial gain for themselves, to the detriment of the firm and Axiom.

Given the seriousness of the allegations and the findings of dishonesty, the respondents should not work within the profession without first obtaining the permission of the applicant. Accordingly, it was appropriate and proportionate to make orders restricting the employment of the respondents under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974.

The respondents’ serious and dishonest conduct also merited a disciplinary sanction in addition to the regulation imposed by the section 43 order. A financial penalty of £10,000 each was both appropriate and proportionate taking into account the respondents’ misconduct and their means.

The respondents were ordered to be jointly and severally liable for costs of £27,132.