Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)
George James Stanley Lonsdale
Hearing 5 August 2019
Reasons 15 August 2019
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
Between 18 February 2015 and 6 March 2015, the respondent had withdrawn £1,500 in cash from a bank account held by Mr D, a client of his employer for whom he had been appointed the sole attorney, for his own personal use, in breach of principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011.
Between 3 October 2015 and 17 June 2016, he had withdrawn a maximum of £4,600 in cash from a bank account held by Mr D, for his own personal use, in breach of principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10.
He had failed to protect, either adequately or at all, four rings given to him by Mr D, in breach of principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10.
The parties invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and outcome.
It was a serious case in which the respondent had been acting for a client who was aged 85 and vulnerable. The respondent had been in a position of trust that went beyond the usual level of trust that should exist between a solicitor and a client. He had had access to his client’s property and money, and so the public and the profession required there to be the highest standards of transparency. The appropriate sanction for that serious breach of trust was a strike-off.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £3,193.
Hearing 6 August 2019
Reasons 13 August 2019
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
The respondent, who was a member of parliament, had been convicted on indictment of doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice and had thereby breached principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. Further, she had acted dishonestly.
In July 2017, the respondent’s car had activated a speed camera, travelling at 41 mph on a 30 mph road. A Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) was received at the respondent’s address. She passed the NIP to another member of her family. It was returned to the police with a nominated driver identified who was a third party. That was false information which had been provided by the respondent’s brother.
In response to a letter from the police and contact by a civilian investigator employed by the police, the respondent had repeated the false information supplied by her brother.
The respondent had sought to avoid the correct person being identified as the driver and in doing so had maintained the deceit contained in the completed form. The events were not spontaneous but nor did they appear to be elaborately planned.
There had been the potential for an innocent third party to face prosecution for the speeding offence. The respondent was in the public eye and in public life and her status as a solicitor was known. That had an impact on the reputation of the profession. The public’s view of the respondent’s conduct had been reflected in a recall petition signed by her constituents which had ultimately led to her removal as a member of parliament.
The respondent had committed an offence of dishonesty that was deliberate, albeit not repeated. She had voluntarily notified the Solicitors Regulation Authority of the fact she had been charged with the offence and had continued to cooperate throughout.
It was a single episode in an otherwise unblemished career. The personal and professional consequences for the respondent had been disastrous.
There had been multiple opportunities for the respondent to attempt to correct the dishonest representation that she had made. There was no evidence, nor had it been suggested, that the respondent was under any sort of duress.
The only appropriate and proportionate sanction was that the respondent be struck off the roll.
She was ordered to pay costs of £6,562.
Stephen Anthony Hogan
Hearing 30-31 July 2019
Reasons 14 August 2019
The SDT ordered that respondent should be struck off the roll.
The respondent had practised as a solicitor without authorisation in breach of rule 1.1 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011 and principles 2, 4, 6 and 7 of the SRA Principles; had carried out reserved legal activities when he was not authorised to do so, in breach of rule 8.1 of the SPFR and principles 2, 6 and 7; and had practised as a solicitor without a practising certificate in breach of rule 9.1 of the SPFR and principles 2, 6 and 7. He had acted dishonestly.
The respondent had misled the court by stating that he was a solicitor (at Setfords and/or when trading as Divorce Assistant) when Setfords were not instructed and/or Divorce Assistant was not authorised, thereby breaching principles 1, 2, 4 and 6 and failing to achieve outcome 5.1 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. He had acted dishonestly.
He had misled clients by failing to inform them that he was not authorised to practise as a solicitor and/or they were not represented by Setfords, thereby breaching principles 2, 4 and 6 and failing to achieve outcome 1.1. He had acted dishonestly.
He had provided a poor standard of service to clients, thereby breaching principles 4, 5, 6 and 10 and failing to achieve outcomes 1.2, 1.5, and 1.11.
While trading as Divorce Assistant, he had failed to take out and maintain professional indemnity insurance, thereby breaching rule 1.3 of the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2013 and principle 7, and failing to achieve outcome 1.8.
While trading as Divorce Assistant he had breached rules 1.2(a), (b), (e), (f) and (i), 13.1, 14.1, 29.1, 29.2, 29.4, 29.9 and 32A.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 7 and 10.
The respondent had chosen to create a vehicle with the specific intention of avoiding compliance, regulation and the requirement to have insurance. His conduct had been planned.
In view of the serious nature of the misconduct, in that it involved dishonesty, the only appropriate and proportionate sanction was to strike the respondent off the roll.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £39,525.