- Application 11704-2017
- Admitted 2005
- Hearing 9-13 April and 21-22 May 2018
- Reasons 10 July 2018
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for 18 months from 22 May 2018.
While owner, principal, director, compliance officer for legal practice and compliance officer for finance and administration of Asons Solicitors Limited, the respondent had: caused or permitted the presentation of applications for costs in personal injury claims which had systematically misrepresented the grade of relevant fee-earners, so as to increase the level of recoverable costs, in breach of principles 1, 4, 5 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and outcomes 5.1 and 5.2 of the SRA Code of Conduct; caused or permitted the presentation of applications for costs in personal injury claims, which were inflated by the inclusion of costs for ‘file reviews’ when no such review of the file had taken place and no supervision had occurred, in breach of principles 1 and 6; caused or permitted the presentation of claims for special damages which contained particulars that were false, in breach of principles 1, 4, 5 and 6; caused or permitted Asons to act in circumstances giving rise to a conflict of interest between Asons and its clients, in breach of principles 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 and outcomes 1.2, 1.16 and 3 .4 of the code, and had acted recklessly; provided misleading information to the court, in breach of principles 1, 2, 6 and 7 and outcome 5.1 of the code, and had acted recklessly; caused or permitted payments of prohibited referral fees in breach of principles 6 and 7 and outcome 9.8 of the code; failed to run his practice or carry out his role as sole principal, COLP and COFA of Asons effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles, in breach of principle 8 and outcomes 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.6 and 7.8 of the code, and had acted recklessly.
In view of the high level of culpability and harm caused the only appropriate sanction was an immediate suspension.
The respondent had not been found to have acted dishonestly and had made significant admissions. He had displayed a degree of genuine insight, and his very difficult personal circumstances had been noted. The shortest term of suspension that could be justified was 18 months.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £115,000.