Hearing 2 August 2018
Reasons 24 August 2018
The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £2,000.
On three occasions, namely on 11 November 2013, 28 November 2013 and 8 December 2013, contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, the respondent had driven a motor vehicle after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath exceeded the prescribed limit, thereby breaching principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.
The respondent’s misconduct had involved three criminal offences likely to put others at risk, which was an aggravating factor, as was the repetition of the offences, although the repetition was over a very short period of time in late 2013 and there had been no repeat since.
The respondent’s voluntary notification to the Law Society (albeit not the relevant regulator) and co-operation with the applicant’s investigation were mitigating factors. The fact that the three allegations related to just two months in an otherwise unblemished career as a solicitor was also a mitigating factor.
He had referred to taking steps to deal with the issues he stated had contributed to the conduct, which demonstrated some insight.
A fine of £8,000 was the appropriate sanction, but that was reduced by 75% to reflect the respondent’s limited means.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £750.
Andrew Mark Cyril Good, Victoria Elizabeth Fear and Danielle Park
Hearing 16-30 July, 1 August 2018
Reasons 13 September 2018
The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1998) should pay a fine of £30,000; and that the second respondent (admitted 2009) should be reprimanded and made subject to the condition that she might not be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration for two years from 1 August 2018, with liberty to either party to apply to vary that condition. The SDT had found the allegations against the third respondent (admitted 2012) not proved and therefore ordered that they should be dismissed.
The first respondent had caused the firm to routinely overcharge by rendering bills of costs which were, and which he knew to be, excessive and often grossly excessive as regards hourly rates and success fees, in breach of principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.
In her position as the firm’s COLP the second respondent had failed to take sufficient steps, and/or take sufficient steps sufficiently quickly, to investigate and consider whether the hourly rates and success fees being applied were reasonable, proportionate and recoverable and/or gave rise to any compliance issues, in breach of principle 6.
The first respondent’s conduct was motivated by his desire for profitability which was not itself a reason for criticism; however in pursuit of that desire he had lost sight of his professional obligations.
It was to the first respondent’s credit that, from September 2013 onwards, he had authorised a reduction in the rates, eventually settling at rates that were realistic, reasonable and proportionate. Further, his misconduct had caused no financial loss to clients.
His conduct had lacked objective integrity, but had not been dishonest. A fine was an appropriate and proportionate sanction.
The second respondent’s misconduct had been at the lowest level, therefore justifying a sanction at the lowest level. The appropriate and proportionate sanction was a reprimand. It was also appropriate to restrict her ability to act as a COLP or COFA of a firm for a limited time in order to protect the public and the reputation of the profession.
The first respondent was ordered to pay one third of 80% of the Part A costs detailed in the applicant’s costs schedule and 75% of 80% of the Part B and C costs detailed in the said schedule, to be assessed if not agreed; and to make an interim payment of £45,000 to the applicant within 56 days of 1 August 2018.
The second respondent was ordered to pay one third of 80% of the Part A costs detailed in the applicant’s costs schedule, and 5% of 80% of the Part B and C costs detailed in the said schedule, to be assessed if not agreed.
The third respondent was ordered to pay one third of 80% of the Part A costs detailed in the applicant’s costs schedule and 20% of 80% of the Part B and C costs detailed in the said schedule, to be assessed if not agreed.
Musharaf Javid Asharaf
Hearing 26 July 2018
Reasons 21 August 2018
The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £5,000, and 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; or be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration, with liberty to either party to apply to vary those conditions.
The respondent had misled clients in litigation cases by preparing invoices which did not accurately reflect the costs recovered from the other side, in breach of principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rule 29.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.
The respondent had used costs recovered on behalf of some clients for the benefit of other clients, in breach of principles 2 and 6, and rules 17.1, and 27.1 of the 2011 rules.
The respondent, by using those costs recovered on behalf of some clients for the benefit of other clients, had misled his firm as to the true financial position of his case-holding, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 8 and rule 29.l of the 2011 rules.
The respondent had sought through his misguided actions to avoid the perceived threat to the work of his department. He had not been coping since before the misconduct, and at the time of the events his medical and personal problems were particularly acute, and his judgement was impaired.
None of the misconduct had involved client money and no risk of any loss of client or firm money was taken. It had taken place during an uncharacteristic period in a long and otherwise unblemished career. The respondent had shown genuine remorse and insight.
A significant fine of £5,000 struck an appropriate balance reflecting the seriousness of the conduct, the limited impact and harm resulting and the persuasive evidence of personal mitigation presented.
Restrictions on the respondent’s ability to take roles where he would be likely to have sole oversight or responsibility for accounts were necessary and appropriate.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £13,000, and £4,200 costs of the case management hearing on 14 June 2018.
Miguel Jose Roure Lopez
Registered REL 2014
Hearing 6-7 August 2018
Reasons 7 September 2018
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the Register of European Lawyers.
The respondent had sent misleading emails to his client’s debtor, FO, in which he had falsely purported to provide his firm’s client account details, breaching principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had acted dishonestly.
He had caused an inappropriate transfer of funds due to his client from FO into his own personal account instead of the firm’s client account, breaching rule 14.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 2, 4, 6 and 10. He had acted dishonestly.
He had misled his firm both as to his dealings with regard to, and the circumstances of, the inappropriate transfer, in breach of principles 2 and 6. He had acted dishonestly.
He had permitted nine transfers totalling £61,285 from an ECS Limited account to his own account(s) without his client’s consent, breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 10. He had acted dishonestly.
He had permitted three transfers totalling £12,656.89 from ECS Limited’s paypal account to his own account(s) without his client’s consent, breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 10. He had acted dishonestly.
He had failed to advise CGG of the circumstances in relation to monies purportedly invested on his behalf which had led to CGG submitting a criminal complaint against him, breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 10. He had acted dishonestly.
He had borrowed £47,000 and €9,100 from CGG in circumstances where there was an own interest conflict as CGG had not obtained independent legal advice, breaching principles 3, 4 and 6 and O(3.4) of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.
The harm caused was substantial and serious. The respondent lacked any insight. He had been offended by the allegations and had fought every point. He had advanced flawed technical arguments and had tried to block the process throughout. He had challenged the authenticity of documents in a way that was unrealistic and fantastical.
The misconduct was at the highest level and the only appropriate sanction was a strike-off.
There were no exceptional circumstances that would make such an order unjust in the present case.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £57,536.