Gerald Anthony Cumming

Application 11639-2017

Admitted 1980

Hearing 3 October 1917

Reasons 13 October 2017

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for nine months from 3 October 2017.

On multiple files between 2009 and 2016 the respondent had retained monies received from the Legal Aid Agency in office account, when that money had been received for payment of unpaid professional disbursements, in breach of rules 7 and 19(1) of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, rules 7 and 21(1) of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998, principles 2, 6, 8 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011, and rules 1.02 and 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007.

By continuing to trade with severe financial difficulties, without reporting such matters to the SRA prior to his bankruptcy, the respondent had breached outcome 10.3 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 and principles 7 and 8.

The motivation for the misconduct was a desire on the part of the respondent to keep the firm afloat. The failure to pay the experts was planned.

The misconduct was at a high level and there was a need for deterrence. Third-party experts and suppliers needed to have confidence that when they were instructed by a solicitor, they would get paid for their services.

A fixed-term suspension was appropriate. In considering the length, the SDT had had regard to the stage the respondent had reached in his career and the circumstances of the misconduct in the case.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £9,000.