Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)

Hugh Peter Lansdell

Application 11906-2018

Admitted 1975

Hearing 5 June 2019

Reasons 18 June 2019

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

The respondent had misappropriated the total sum of £1,490,013.16 from the client account of Hansells, a recognised body in which he was a partner, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rule 20.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011. 

He had misappropriated the total sum of £35,855 from two bank accounts in the name of individuals in relation to whom he held a lasting power of attorney, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 10 and rule 20.1 of the rules. 

He had caused assets to a total value of £88,001.53 comprised within the A Trust, a private trust whose trustees were his clients, to be sold otherwise than on the instructions of the trustees and had thereafter misappropriated the proceeds of their sale, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 10 and rule 20.1 of the rules. 

He had caused assets to a total value of £102,500 held upon the trusts of Charity B, a registered charity to which he was the clerk, to be sold otherwise than on the instructions of the trustees and had thereafter misappropriated the proceeds of their sale, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 10 and rule 20.1 of the rules. 

He had caused assets to a total value of £247,289.75 held upon the trusts of Charity C, a registered charity to which he was the clerk, to be sold otherwise than on the instructions of the trustees and had thereafter misappropriated the proceeds of their sale, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 10 and rule 20.1 of the rules.

In each instance his conduct was dishonest. 

The parties invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and outcome. 

The respondent’s misconduct was very serious, had occurred over a protracted period of time and was repeated and deliberate.

Given the serious nature of the allegations admitted, the only appropriate and proportionate sanction was to strike the respondent from the roll. Accordingly, the SDT granted the application for matters to be resolved by way of the agreed outcome.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £27,338.

Keith Smart

Application 11903-2018

Admitted 1979

Hearing 22 May 2019

Reasons 22 May 2019

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

While practising as sole practitioner at Keith Smart & Co (the firm) he had:

(i) failed to have properly written up books of account; (ii) made or permitted round sum transfers on account of the firm’s costs; (iii) caused or allowed debit balances to exist on client account; (iv) overcharged the estate of CM by a minimum of £36,009.16; (v) overcharged the estate of MJP by a minimum of £31,447.30; (vi) overcharged the estate of SMC by a minimum of £9,942.50; (vii) overcharged the estate of MM by a minimum of £5,942.50; (viii) overcharged the estate of AWD by a minimum of £70,765; (ix) overcharged the estate of YJJ by a minimum of £14,666.67; (x) attempted to mislead the forensic investigation officer (FIO) in a meeting by informing him that he had sent bills to the executors in relation to the estate of CM; (xi) attempted to mislead the FIO in a letter and in interview by informing him that he had discussed costs with the executor of the estate of CM at a meeting with him. 

He had thereby breached rules l.2e, 7.1, 17.2, 17.3, 17.7, 20.3, 20.09, 29.2 and 29.12 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011, and had acted dishonestly. 

The parties invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and indicated outcome. 

The respondent had admitted eight counts of dishonesty. His misconduct was assessed as very serious. He had deliberately and excessively overcharged clients. He had also deliberately misled the applicant both during his interview and in writing. 

Given the serious nature of the allegations admitted, the only appropriate and proportionate sanction was to strike the respondent from the roll. Accordingly, the SDT granted the application for matters to be resolved by way of the agreed outcome.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £20,152. 

Martyn Robert Brown

Application 11900-2018

Admitted 1998

Hearing 2 May 2019

Reasons 3 June 2019

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

Following receipt of qualified accountant’s reports during the period 2013-2017 which had put him on notice of SRA Accounts Rules 2011 breaches (including a significant client account shortage), caused by his retention of monies intended for payment of professional disbursements and insurance premiums, the respondent had failed to remedy the breaches identified promptly upon discovery, contrary to rule 7 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 2, 8 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011. 

Having received monies for the purpose of discharging professional disbursements, the respondent had failed either to pay those disbursements on to the appropriate recipients and in the absence of such payments, to transfer the monies from office to client account in breach of rule 17.1(1)(b) of the rules and principles 2 and 6. He had acted dishonestly. 

The motivation for the respondent’s conduct was to keep his firm afloat and improve his cashflow, without any regard for others. The respondent’s firm had stayed solvent due to the detriment suffered by the experts and counsel who had not been paid fees that were properly due to them. 

The respondent had breached the trust of those professionals who had trusted him to pay their fees once he himself had received the funds to enable him to do so. He was the compliance officer for legal practice, compliance officer for finance and administration and the money laundering reporting officer for the firm and he was therefore entirely responsible. 

He had effectively been stealing money from the professionals to whom that money was due in order to finance his firm. He certainly had had no intention of paying it to them unless and until he had to. That was unacceptable behaviour, and to allow the respondent to remain a member of the profession would undermine public confidence in it.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £9,068.