Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)
Hearing 27-28 January 2020
Reasons 20 February 2020
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
While in practice as a partner at Broadway Solicitors and while a director and solicitor at Broadway Legal Limited, trading as Broadway Solicitors, the respondent had:
- Caused or allowed the firm to send claims notification forms in personal injury claims without the knowledge of the named client, and without proper grounds for signing the statement of truth, in breach of principles 6 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011;
- Failed to investigate and take appropriate remedial or any appropriate action, despite being made aware of reports that the firm had issued claims notification forms in such claims;
- As regards agreements supposedly entered into between clients and claims management companies, he had failed to give proper or adequate advice as to whether those agreements were in the clients’ best interests, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 5 and 6 and failing to achieve outcomes 9.1, 9.2 and 9.3 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011;
- Caused or allowed the firm to act for clients where there was a conflict of interests or a significant risk thereof between the clients’ interests and the firm’s interests, thereby breaching principles 2, 4 and 6, and failing to achieve outcome 3.4;
- Caused or allowed the firm to instruct claims management companies which were referring clients to the firm or with whom the firm had referral arrangements, to provide expert reports and treatments for clients without considering whether it was in their best interests to do so, thereby breaching principles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and failing to achieve outcomes 9.3 and 9.4;
- Failed to act appropriately when he became aware that work on client matters was being outsourced overseas, in breach of principles 2, 4, 6 and 8;
- Failed correctly to prepare any or adequate client account reconciliation statements every five weeks, in breach of rules 29.12 and 29.13 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 6 and 8;
- Caused a minimum cash shortage of £56,542.11 as at 28 February 2017, in breach of rule 20.9 of the rules and principles 6, 8 and 10;
- Caused a credit to the office account of £91,951.25 as at 28 February 2017, in breach of principles 6 and 8. As at 28 February 2017, the firm had held residual balances on 800 client matters totalling £232,533 in office balances and £10,372.84 in client balances, in breach of rule 14.3 of the rules and principles 6 and 8;
- Failed to maintain accurate client ledgers, in breach of principles 6 and 8;
- Failed adequately to carry out his role as a compliance officer for finance and administration and compliance officer for legal practice, in breach of rules 8.5(c) and 8.5(e) of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011, and principle 7;
- By virtue of his convictions of the assaults of AF and HF on 5 April 2018, contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, he had breached principles 2 and 6;
- By virtue of his conviction of the assault of AF on 10 April 2019 contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, he had breached principles 2, 4 and 6.
The respondent’s motivation for his misconduct as regards the firm was financial. He had repeatedly and consistently subordinated the interests of his clients for his own interests and that of the firm. He had caused significant harm to the reputation of the profession.
The criminal convictions increased the seriousness of his overall misconduct.
The only appropriate and proportionate sanction was to strike him off the roll.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £55,000.
Hesling Henriques Solicitors
On 20 March 2020, the Adjudication Panel resolved to intervene into Nicholas Peter Whiffen, practising as Hesling Henriques Solicitors, of Suite 20, 30 Churchill Square, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4YU.
The grounds for intervention were:
- There was reason to suspect dishonesty by Whiffen in connection with his practice as a solicitor (paragraph 1(1)(a)(i) Schedule 1 – Part I Solicitors Act 1974).
- Whiffen had failed to comply with rules made under section 31 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (paragraph 1(1)(c) Schedule 1 Solicitors Act 1974).
James Dunn of Devonshires Solicitors, 30 Finsbury Circus, London EC2M 7DT, tel: 0207 065 1830, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent.
Whiffen’s practising certificate was suspended as a result of the intervention decision.