• Application 11736-2017
  • Admitted 2012
  • Hearing 12, 13 June 2018
  • Reasons 11 July 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £10,000, and that he might not practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body, with liberty to either party to apply to vary the above condition.

The respondent had allowed the website ‘www.benmarklaw.com’ to appear online, despite a request from the SRA to remove it, giving the impression that ‘Ben & Mark Solicitors Limited’ was a genuine firm of solicitors authorised and regulated by the SRA when that was not the case, thereby breaching principles 2, 6 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2011 and failing to achieve outcomes 8.1, 8.4 and 8.5 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

He had used misleading information to describe ‘Ben & Mark Solicitors Limited’ on the website ‘www.benmarklaw.com’ to promote ‘Ben & Mark Solicitors Limited’, thereby breaching principles 2, 6 and 7 and failing to achieve outcomes 8.1 and 8.4 of the code.

He had accepted instructions from Ms SH to act for her on a conveyancing transaction in circumstances in which he was not authorised to do so, as ‘Ben & Mark Solicitors’ was not a firm of solicitors authorised or regulated by the SRA, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7, and rule 1 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011, and failing to achieve outcomes 1.3 and 1. 7 of the code.

His conduct was aggravated by its continuance over a period of time and in the face of a request to remove the website. His conduct was deliberate and calculated. He had shown no insight into his misconduct as regards the first two allegations. The appropriate sanction in the matter was a financial penalty. It was also necessary to restrict the respondent from being a sole practitioner. There was a real risk that if he was allowed to practise in his own right, he was likely to breach the rules and principles given his demonstrable lack of understanding of the proper procedures and processes he should have employed when trying to establish his firm.

He was ordered to pay costs of £7,500.