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

James Wilson Oram

Application 12027-2019

Admitted 2009

Hearing 3 March 2020

Reasons 7 April 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £2,000. The respondent had been convicted of driving a motor vehicle on a road after consuming so much alcohol that his alcohol levels exceeded the prescribed limits, contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. He had thereby breached principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. He was disqualified from driving for 40 months, to be reduced by 40 weeks if, by 12 March 2021, he had satisfactorily completed an approved course, and ordered to pay a fine of £700, a £70 surcharge to fund victim services and costs of £85.

The respondent had previously been convicted of driving a motor vehicle when the level of alcohol in his blood exceeded the prescribed limit.

The respondent had shown genuine insight into the factors that caused or contributed to the misconduct. The SDT had heard evidence of the steps he had taken and was taking to address his alcohol dependency, and had noted the strong support from his employer, with whom he had been open about his offending.

The events had had a very adverse impact on his personal life. He had already been punished in the criminal courts for the offence. He was ordered to pay costs of £2,500.

Carpenter Singh Solicitors (Recognised Body), Paul Duncan Leslie Carpenter, Jonathan David Carpenter, Richard Owain Singh and Rodric Andrew Singh

Application 12044-2020

Hearing 17 March 2020

Reasons 7 April 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondents should pay the following fines: the first respondent (a recognised body) – £7,501; the second respondent (admitted 1997) – £10,000; and the third (admitted 2001), fourth (admitted 1998) and fifth (admitted 1999) respondents – £7,501 each.

The respondents had caused or permitted a minimum client account shortage to exist of at least £9,106.55, in breach of principles 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rules 1.2, 7 and 20 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

They had failed to keep accounting records properly written up, in breach of principles 6 and 8 and rules 6, 29.1 and 29.2.

They had failed to carry out client account reconciliations, in accordance with the rules, in that designated deposit accounts were not included in the reconciliation, in breach of rule 29.12.

By operating client suspense ledger accounts with overdrawn balances totalling £8,579.37, relating to historic misallocated entries, they had breached rule 29.25.

The firm’s client matter listing as at 1 June 2018 showed over 900 residual balances totalling at least £468,809.13, where there had been no transaction on client account for over six months, in breach of principles 4 and 10 and rules 14.3 and 14.4.

As a consequence of the above, the second to fifth respondents had breached rule 6.

The parties applied to the SDT to approve an agreed outcome to the proceedings. The SDT was satisfied on the basis of the respondents’ admissions and the agreed facts presented that the allegations had all been proved to the requisite standard.

There had clearly been wide-ranging and systematic flaws in the firm’s accounting practices. The second respondent’s culpability was higher than that of the other respondents as he was the firm’s compliance officer for legal practice and compliance officer for finance and administration. The misconduct was serious.

The SDT was satisfied that the agreed outcome should be approved.

The respondents were ordered to pay costs of £10,000, on the basis of joint and several liability.