Jason Roy Monteith Libby

  • Application 11646-2017
  • Admitted 2001
  • Hearing 23 June 2017
  • Reasons 1 August 2017

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £5,000. There was no order for costs. For the avoidance of doubt, the present order superseded that made on 8 July 2016.

In July 2016, the SDT heard an application against the respondent under case number 11433-2015. The respondent faced three allegations in connection with a loan from the Axiom Fund, including the following: ‘Allegation 1: the respondent caused or permitted the firm to accept, and use, £456,108 (net of the facilitation fee and insurance premiums) from the Axiom Fund in circumstances where it was improper for the respondent to do so for the following reasons (and each of them)…’.

Allegation 1 was then broken down into eight sub-allegations based on which it was alleged that the respondent had acted without integrity in breach of principle 2 of the SRA Principles 2011, and behaved in a way that did not maintain the trust the public placed in him and in the provision of legal services, in breach of principle 6.

On 26 August 2016, the SDT dismissed the allegations. The applicant appealed to the Divisional Court, which allowed the appeal ‘to the extent that the SDT had failed to address the question of whether the failure by the respondent to give the care and attention expected of a reasonably competent [solicitor] in dealing with the use of money under the agreement (sic). Had they addressed that question, they would necessarily have found that such conduct would undermine the trust placed by the public in solicitors and the provision of legal services, and so involved a breach of principle 6. The matter was remitted to the SDT to determine the appropriate sanction’.

The respondent had not been reckless nor had he acted intentionally but the level of his carelessness was very serious. His eyes were fixed on expanding his business for laudable reasons, but he had allowed himself to be blinkered in doing so.

No client had lost out, but there had been loss to the Axiom investors; the respondent had misused £401,608 of the £456,108 net loan, and had subsequently repaid some £210,000 of those monies.

The respondent had done his best to make the repayment agreed with the Axiom receiver, and been fastidious in doing so. By so doing, he had shown a degree of insight.

The misconduct needed to be marked by a financial penalty.