Juliet Bellis

  • Application 11217-2014
  • Admitted 1979
  • Hearing 13-14 December 2016, 24-26 July 2017
  • Reasons 15 August 2017

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £50,000.

The respondent had allowed her independence to be compromised, contrary to rule 1.03 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007.

She had behaved in a way that was likely to diminish the trust the public placed in her or the legal profession, contrary to rule 1.06 of the code.

She had acted where there was a conflict of interest, or a significant risk thereof, contrary to rule 3.01(1), 3.01(2)(a) and 3.01(2)(b) of the code.

She had authorised withdrawals of monies from a client account when not entitled to do so, contrary to rule 22 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998.

She had failed to maintain proper identification procedures, contrary to regulation 4 of the Money Laundering Regulations 2003.

She had made improper use of a client account by utilising it as a banking facility, contrary to rule 15, footnote ix of the rules.

She had provided services other than those a recognised body is permitted to provide contrary to rule 14 of the code.

She had failed to keep accounting records properly written up to show her dealings with client money contrary to rule 32 of the rules.

She had failed to act with integrity, contrary to rule 1.02 of the code.

She had acted in a conveyancing transaction in relation to a property in which she, together with her husband and her sister, had an interest as sellers of that property in breach of a condition imposed on her practising certificate, thereby breaching rule 7 of the SRA Practising Regulations 2011 and principles 6 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2011.

The majority of the misconduct had taken place between eight and 10 years ago and, with the exception of the last allegation, there had been no examples of misconduct before or since.

In the intervening years, the respondent had had conditions placed on her practising certificate, and the event in question had arisen out of a fog of confusion between 2007 and 2009 which placed a cap on the seriousness of the lack of integrity. The respondent’s primary failings had been incompetence. The appropriate sanction was a fine.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs to be assessed if not agreed.