• Application 11684A-2017
  • Hearing 22 January 2018
  • Reasons 31 January 2018

The SDT ordered that as from 22 January 2018, except in accordance with Law Society permission, no solicitor should employ or remunerate the respondent in connection with his practice as a solicitor; no employee of a solicitor should employ or remunerate the respondent in connection with the solicitor’s practice; no recognised body should employ or remunerate the respondent; no manager or employee of a recognised body should employ or remunerate the respondent in connection with the business of that body; no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit the respondent to be a manager of the body; and no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit the respondent to have an interest in the body.

The respondent had been guilty of conduct of such a nature that, in the opinion of the SRA, it would be undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice. While employed as a legal cashier by Geoffrey Parker Bourne Ltd and GPB Solicitors LLP, as a consequence of failure to ensure the systems in place were properly controlled, he had made transfers from client account to office account other than in the circumstances allowed under rule 22 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998, and rule 20 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, in breach of rules 1.02 and 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007 and principles 2, 6, 7 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011. The respondent had acted dishonestly.

The respondent’s motivation was to retain his employment and that of the other members of staff, and to prevent the company from closing. He was not motivated by personal gain.

He had shown some insight into his misconduct: he had never sought to resile from his admission that he made the transfers and that he knew that to do so was improper.

A section 43 order was necessary to protect the public and the reputation of the profession. Given the finding of dishonesty, it was highly unlikely that the respondent would obtain permission from the SRA to return to work in a legal practice. It would therefore be unfair and disproportionate to impose a financial penalty in addition to a section 43 order.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £7,500.