Geoffrey Martin Signey

  • Application 11603-2017
  • Admitted 1972
  • Hearing 8, 9 August 2017
  • Reasons 14 September 2017

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

The respondent had sold his shares in Signey Law Ltd to C Investments Ltd. The sale was improper because C Ltd was at all material times owned, managed and controlled by a non-solicitor who was not authorised by the SRA to be a manager or owner of a recognised body, in breach of rules 13.1, 16.1 and 19.1 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011, regulation 5.1 of the SRA Recognised Bodies Regulations 2011, rule 8.6 of the SRA Authorisation Rules for Legal Services Bodies and Licensable Bodies 2011, and principles 2, 6, 7 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011. In so doing he acted recklessly.

He had failed to make any, or any adequate, inquiries as to the ownership, management and control of C Ltd prior to the sale, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 8. In so doing he acted recklessly.

He had failed to take any steps to notify the applicant of the change of ownership of Signey, in breach of rules 18.2 and 19.1 of the Practice Framework Rules, regulations 1.6(b) and 3.1 of the 2011 regulations, and principles 2, 6 and 8. In so doing he acted recklessly.

He had signed in blank on the back of Signey’s application for funding from an investment fund and failed thereafter to review the document, thereby facilitating a materially false application, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 8. In so doing he acted recklessly.

He had signed a litigation funding agreement with an investment fund on Signey’s behalf without having made any adequate inquiries, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 8. In so doing he acted recklessly.

He had caused or permitted Signey to accept and use monies received from an investment fund totalling £4,778,803, in circumstances where it was improper for him to do so in breach of principles 2 and 6. In so doing he acted recklessly.

He had failed to ensure that those monies were paid into client account, or that an office account was opened to hold them pending their use for an authorised purpose, contrary to principles 2, 6, 8 and 10, and to rules 1.2(a), 1.2(b), 6 and 14.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011. In so doing he acted recklessly.

He had abrogated his responsibilities as sole director and principal of Signey, and had thereby breached principles 2, 6 and 8, and had failed to achieve outcomes 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4 and 7.8 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. In so doing he acted recklessly.

He had accepted a payment of £30,000 from Signey when resigning as director, the payment of which was improper, in breach of principles 2 and 6. In so doing he acted dishonestly.

Although the respondent had been duped, he was the primary author of his own proven misconduct. Even without the dishonesty, the misconduct was at the high end of gravity; there had been a consistent display of lack of integrity and recklessness. The finding of dishonesty put the sanction beyond any doubt.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £44,860.