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

Raymond Lawrence Toms

Application 12082-2020

Admitted 1973

Hearing 3 September 2020

Reasons 9 September 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll. While acting as sole  practitioner at Goldbergs Solicitors the respondent had:

  • dishonestly made or authorised improper transfers from the firm’s client account to the office account in respect of persons A, B, C, D, E and F, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011, and rules 1.1, 1.2(a) and (c) and 20.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011;
  • dishonestly sought to disguise those improper transfers by cancelling, delaying or failing to send cheques in respect of the client matters A, B, C, D, E and F, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 10;
  • dishonestly made transfers from the client account to the office account of sums in excess of those which had been estimated to the client in respect of all or any of the client matters A, B and G, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 10, and rule 17.2 of the rules;
  • dishonestly failed to pay disbursements owed to third parties within a reasonable time or at all in relation to any or all of the client matters D and E , thereby breaching principles 2 and 6;
  • dishonestly failed to comply with the rules and/or failed to run his business in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles by breaching rules 1.1, 1.2(c), 7.1, 7.2, 17.2 and 20.1(a) (c) and (d) of the 2011 rules, and principles 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10.

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

The respondent had admitted that his conduct had been dishonest. His conduct was such that it was untenable for him to remain on the roll.  The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £17,250.

Michael Philip Pulsford

Application 12098-2020

Admitted 1980

Hearing 25 August 2020

Reasons 4 September 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll. By virtue of his convictions on 16 October 2018 of 12 offences of indecent assault on boys and girls under the age of 16; on 11 March 2019 of three offences of indecent assault on boys and girls under the age of 16; and on 14 March 2019 of one offence of indecent assault of boys and girls under the age of 16, for which he was sentenced to a total of eight years and eight months’ imprisonment, the respondent was placed on the Barring List by the Disclosure and Barring Service and was to sign the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely. By virtue of his conviction for the offences set out above, the respondent had breached principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

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

The SDT was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made.

The respondent’s convictions were the result of repeated serious sexual offending on young people, described by the sentencing judge as a gross breach of trust. Public confidence in and the reputation of the profession required no lesser sanction than that the respondent be removed from the roll.  The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £1,300.

Michelle Louise Craven

Application 12040-2019

Admitted 2018

Hearing 22-24 July 2020

Reasons 18 September 2020

The SDT made no order in respect of the allegations admitted and found proved against the respondent.

The respondent had added time to a file-recording system for work that she had not done. She had included descriptions for the work, which made it look as if she had carried out, or would carry out, the work. She had thereby failed to achieve outcome 1.1 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011, in that she had not treated her clients fairly.

The respondent had allowed the firm at which she worked to send several invoices charging for work that she had not done. She had included descriptions for the work, which made it look as if she had carried out, or would carry out, the work. She had thereby breached principles 4 and 5 of the SRA Principles 2011.

The respondent’s intention had been to complete the work she had recorded. There had been no element of gain on her part. She had genuinely, albeit wrongly, considered the practice of anticipatory billing as she had practised it to be acceptable. Given the context of the misconduct, there had been no breach of trust.

The respondent had not misled the regulator. Overall, her culpability was low, as was the harm caused.

The respondent’s conduct had cost her her employment, and had a continuing financial impact on her since her dismissal. She had spent two years as a result of the events in a non-practising role.

Any further sanction would be disproportionate. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £3,000.

Andrew Mark Forsythe

Application 12119-2020

Admitted 2007

Hearing 6 October 2020

Reasons 12 October 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £5,000.

By virtue of his conviction of failing to provide a specimen of blood pursuant to section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the respondent had breached principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

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 SDT had reviewed all the material before it and was satisfied that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made.

A financial penalty was appropriate. The respondent’s conduct had been assessed as falling within the tribunal’s indicative fine band level 2 as the misconduct was moderately serious. A fine of £5,000 appropriately reflected the seriousness of the respondent’s misconduct.

In the circumstances, the sum proposed by the parties was appropriate and proportionate. Accordingly, the SDT approved the application for the matter to be dealt with by way of an agreed outcome. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £1,137.