Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)
Hearing 9, 10 September 2019
Reasons 8 October 2019
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for six months from 10 September 2019, that period of suspension to be suspended for two years from the same date, subject to compliance by the respondent throughout that period with the terms of the restriction order imposing conditions on practice, namely that he might not practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised body; practise as a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice or alternative business structure or other recognised body; be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; or work as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the SRA.
If the respondent were to be found to have breached any of the above conditions, activation by the SDT of the period of suspension of six months would follow in addition to any sanction imposed for the breach of condition(s).
If the period of two years under restriction was successfully completed, the suspended suspension from practice of six months would cease to have effect. The respondent might apply to the SDT to vary the conditions after three years from 10 September 2019.
The respondent, having provided an undertaking to ECL to take all reasonable steps necessary to assist in the registration of its building society client’s mortgage as a first legal charge concerning property A, owned by his client K, had intentionally refused to comply with or fulfil that undertaking, thereby breaching or failing to achieve principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and outcome 11.2 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.
The respondent had sought to take unfair advantage of ECL and/or its building society client by demanding payment of £4,459 from it without good cause in order to procure the discharge of the priority search he had submitted against property A, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6 and failing to achieve outcome 11.1 of the code.
By raising an invoice in the sum of £4,459 without prior consent of his client on a matter where the initial fees estimate had been £190, the respondent had breached principles 2, 4 and 6.
The respondent had shown little genuine regret and insight into his misconduct.
A six-month suspension, to be suspended for two years, coupled with an order imposing restrictions on practice, would provide adequate protection against the risk of harm to clients and the public, and would maintain the reputation of the profession. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £15,000.
Andrew James Daverson
Hearing 2 December 2019
Reasons 13 December 2019
The SDT ordered the respondent to pay a fine of £20,000.
While acting on the instruction of Mr X in relation to a bridging loan to be secured against a property legally registered to and owned by Mr X and Ms Y, the respondent had witnessed a signature on the loan documentation which purported to be that of Ms Y, and transferred funds arising from the loan transaction to Mr X, without carrying out any or adequate customer due diligence measures in relation to Mr X, Ms Y or anyone purporting to be Ms Y, thereby breaching principles 6 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011, and in respect of Ms Y principles 4 and 5. He failed to comply with his duties under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, thereby failing to achieve outcome 7.5 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 and breaching principle 7.
When acting on the loan transaction, he had failed to provide to Mr X and/or Ms Y required written information regarding the terms of his instruction, thereby failing to achieve any or all of outcomes 1.9, 1.10 and 1.13 of the 2011 Code and/or breaching principles 5 and 6.
The parties had invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and indicated outcome. The SDT was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made.
While he had made no personal gain, the SDT considered that as an experienced conveyancing solicitor the respondent’s failure to undertake some of the most fundamental and basic steps that all solicitors are legally and professionally obliged to complete represented very serious misconduct. Significant harm had been caused to Ms Y. 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 respondent was ordered to pay costs of £3,890.