David Christopher James Barr

  • Application 11539-2016
  • Admitted 1975
  • Hearing 11 April 2017
  • Reasons 20 April 2017

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

On 16 May 2014, the respondent had dishonestly withdrawn £40,000 from client account, in breach of principles 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011.

On 19 September 2014, he had dishonestly withdrawn £60,000 from client account, in breach of principles 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10.

On 11 October 2011, he had dishonestly transferred £120,000 of client money from the ledger in the name of one client to the ledger in the name of another and utilised it in connection with a property purchase which he completed on 17 October 2011, in breach of principles 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10.

Between 2 and 9 August 2013, he had dishonestly utilised client money totalling £29,265.34 in connection with a property purchase, in breach of principles 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10.

On 4 and 24 September 2013, he had dishonestly utilised client money totalling £57,043.39 in connection with a property purchase, in breach of principles 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10.

Between 9 May 2013 and 8 April 2015, he had dishonestly withdrawn money from client account totalling £120,043.39, in breach of rule 20.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

From 16 October 2007 until 5 October 2011 in breach of note (ix) of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998 and thereafter until 11 November 2011, in breach of rule 14.5 of the rules, he had permitted money to pass into and out of client account when not accompanied by the conduct of an underlying transaction in which his firm had been instructed.

On 21 May 2008, in breach of rules 1.04 and 3 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007, he had made a loan of £70,000 from a trust of which he was trustee for a property purchase where he had failed to take independent legal advice as to whether it was proper to make the loan; had failed to draw up a loan agreement; and had failed periodically to review the loan, in breach of rule 1.04 of the code. He had also acted where there was a conflict between his interests and those of the estate, in breach of rule 3 of the code.

On 21 October 2014, he had dishonestly made a loan to his business partner F of £31,000 from the estate of a deceased client for the purchase of a property from which he benefited on subsequent sale in January 2015, in breach of principles 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10.

He had failed to follow the letter of wishes from that deceased client and to administer the trust in a timely manner, and he had overcharged his estate and that of another client, in breach of principles 4 and 5.

There could be no doubt that the respondent’s repeated actions were dishonest. He had shown no real insight into his misconduct, save that he had made admissions in the course of the proceedings.

In a case of dishonesty, the normal and appropriate sanction was to strike the solicitor off the roll unless there were exceptional circumstances, and there were no such circumstances in the case.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £32,659.