Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)
Peter Brogan and Martin Steven Baddiel
Hearing 18 July 2019
Reasons 23 July 2019
The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1973) should pay a fine of £7,501, and that the second respondent (admitted 1979) should pay a fine of £8,500.
The respondents had failed to ensure that their client account was being operated properly in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, by breaching rules 1.2(e), 1.2(f), 7, 17.7, 20.3, 20.6, 20.9, 29.1, 29.2, 29.4, 29.12, 29.14 and 29.25.
They had thereby acted in breach of principles 6, 7 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011, and had failed to achieve outcomes 7.2 and 7.4 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.
The second respondent alone had also breached rule 8.5(e) of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011.
The parties had invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondents in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and outcome.
The SDT was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondents’ admissions had been properly made. The appropriate sanctions in the matter were financial penalties. The parties had proposed a fine of £7,501 for the first respondent and a higher fine of £8,500 for the second respondent to reflect his culpability as compliance officer for finance and administration. The SDT, having determined that the proposed sanction was appropriate and proportionate, granted the application for matters to be resolved by way of the agreed outcome.
The respondents were ordered to pay costs of £20,823 on the basis of joint and several liability.
Eric Christopher Evans and David Alan Whiteley
Hearings 1, 5 July 2019
Reasons 12 July 2019
The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1980) and the second respondent (admitted 1987) should each pay a fine of £10,000.
The first and second respondents had acted for Client C in the sale of the freehold of four sites to O or O’s nominees, notwithstanding that each of them was a beneficial owner of O, and notwithstanding that they each had a financial interest in the transaction. There was thus a conflict of interests or a significant risk of a conflict of interests between the interests of each respondent and those of Client C under rule 3.01 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007, and the respondents and the firm were therefore prohibited from acting for Client C. The respondents had therefore acted in breach of rules 1.03, 1.04, 1.05, 1.06 and 3.01 of the code.
The first and second respondents had each acted and/or caused or permitted the firm to so act, notwithstanding that the other respondent was a beneficial owner of O, and notwithstanding that each was aware that the other respondent had a financial interest in the transaction. There was thus a conflict of interests between the interests of the other respondent and those of Client C under rule 3.01 of the code, and the respondents and the firm were therefore prohibited from acting for Client C. The respondents had therefore acted in breach of rules 1.03, 1.04, 1.05, 1.06 and 3.01 of the code.
The parties invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondents in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and outcome.
The SDT was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondents’ admissions were properly made.
In addition to the sanction proposed, the respondents were willing to provide an undertaking not to apply for a practising certificate for a period of two years. The SDT considered that the proposed sanction, together with the undertaking, was appropriate and proportionate and reflected the seriousness of the respondents’ misconduct. It therefore granted the application for matters to be resolved by way of the agreed outcome.
Each respondent was ordered to pay costs of £25,000.
Buddika Sajeevani Kadurugamuwa
Hearing 20 June 2019
Reasons 25 July 2019
The SDT refused the applicant’s application for removal of conditions imposed by it on 1 February 2017.
On 1 February 2017, another division of the SDT had imposed a fine of £2,000 on the applicant, and imposed the following conditions on her practising certificate: that she might not (i) act as a manager or owner of any authorised body; (ii) be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; (iii) act as a money laundering reporting officer for any authorised body; be a sole signatory to any client or office account cheques; have sole responsibility for client or office account; or have sole responsibility for authorising client or office account transfers, electronic or otherwise.
The SDT further ordered that the applicant should immediately inform any actual or prospective employer of those conditions and the reasons for their imposition; and that there should be liberty to either party to apply to vary or rescind those conditions after the lapse of a two-year period from 1 February 2017.
On 5 February 2016, the applicant had been convicted on indictment of ‘concealment/disguise/convert/transfer/removed criminal property X1’, an offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
By virtue of that conviction, the applicant had breached principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.
It was rather unusual for a division of the SDT to impose a minimum period on conditions such as that imposed in the present case. That reflected the very real concerns that that division had had. Irrespective of what the applicant currently intended, if the restrictions were lifted, she would be able to set up a practice on her own, and/or be appointed a compliance officer for legal practice, a compliance officer for finance and administration, or a money laundering reporting officer.
It was clear that the applicant was practising in the high-risk area of conveyancing, and the SDT was satisfied that a member of the public would have grave concerns about a solicitor with a conviction relating to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 being in a position to conduct conveyancing work unrestricted.
The imposition of restrictions on the applicant’s practising certificate continued to be appropriate and proportionate in the present case.
The applicant was ordered to pay costs of £2,194.