• Application 11667-2017

• Admitted 1987

• Hearing 5 December 2017

• Reasons 11 January 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £30,000, and that he should be subject to the following conditions: that he might not practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body; be a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice or alternative business structure or other authorised or recognised body; be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; hold client money; or be a signatory on any client account, with liberty to either party to apply to vary those conditions.

The respondent had caused or permitted a client account shortage to exist, in breach of principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011.

He had failed to carry out adequate client account reconciliations and failed to maintain proper accounting records and systems and books of account, in breach of rules 29.12, 29.13, 1.2(e) and 1.2(f) of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 2, 4, 5 and 6.

He had inappropriately utilised a suspense account, in breach of rules 29.25 and 29.9 of the rules.

He had failed to deliver the firm’s accountants’ reports to the SRA within six months of the accounting period for the years ending September 2014 and 2015, in breach of rule 32.1 of the rules and, principles 4, 5, 6 and 7.

He had failed to rectify breaches promptly on discovery, in breach of rule 7.1 of the rules and of principles 4, 5 and 6.

He had failed to run his business or carry out his roles in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles, thereby breaching principles 4, 5, 6 and 8, and failing to achieve outcome 7.4 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

He had failed to protect client money and assets, in breach of principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10, and to achieve outcome 7.4.

In his capacity as COLP and COFA of the firm, he had not reported the breaches of the rules to the SRA, in breach of rule 8.5 of the Authorisation Rules 2011 and of principles 2, 7 and 8, and had thereby failed to achieve outcome 10.3.

The respondent’s integrity had been called into question in respect of his attitude to running his accounts properly. The level of seriousness of the misconduct could be marked by a significant fine, with restrictions on the respondent’s future practice. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £21,000.