Hearing 19 April 2018
Reasons 17 May 2018
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
While a partner at Knights Solicitors LLP [of Staffordshire], the respondent had caused an improper transfer of £25,000 from the client ledger account of clients C and M to the bank account of an unrelated client, client H, in breach of rules 7 and 20.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 2, 4, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011.
While a partner at Knights Solicitors LLP, he had inserted or caused to be inserted an incorrect purchase price of £245,000 on a stamp duty land tax form submitted on behalf of clients C and M, when he knew that the true purchase price of the property was £745,000, in breach of principles 2, 4 and 6.
By causing a payment of £11,667.06 to be made from money held on behalf of his client and father-in-law JD to pay his own personal tax liability, he had used the client account of Knights Solicitors LLP as a banking facility in breach of rule 14.5 of the rules.
While a partner at Freeths LLP, he had made or caused to be made 14 improper withdrawals of client money for the benefit of unrelated clients totalling £984,098.82, in breach of rules 7 and 20.1 of the rules and principles 2,4, 6 and 10. He had acted dishonestly.
He had made or caused to be made 11 improper withdrawals of client money from the client account of KJD Freeths LLP for the benefit of unrelated clients totalling £1,001,841.69, in breach of rules 7 and 20.1 of the rules and principles 2, 4, 6 and 10. He had acted dishonestly.
The respondent had made numerous improper transfers from client account over a period of time. His conduct had become deliberate even if at the outset the misconduct was due to mistakes.
There was no evidence that the respondent had benefited from the improper transfers. However, there had been deficits in client account which had not been accounted for and his misconduct had had an adverse effect on the firms, C and M.
There were no exceptional circumstances in the case and the appropriate sanction was for the respondent’s name to be struck off the roll. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £27,000.