• Application 11272-2014
• Admitted 1988
• Hearing 11-13 October 2016
• Reasons 1 November 2016
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
The respondent had caused or permitted monies to be withdrawn from client account, such withdrawals being contrary to rule 20 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.
On discovering cash shortages and other breaches of the 2011 rules, the respondent had failed to remedy promptly such breaches, contrary to rule 7.
The respondent had failed to maintain properly written up and accurate accounting records, in breach of rule 29.
The respondent had retained, without proper reason, client monies, contrary to rule 14.
The respondent had failed to act with integrity; acted in a way which allowed his independence to be compromised; failed to provide a proper service to his firm’s clients; and behaved in a way that put at risk the trust the public placed in him and in the provision of legal services, contrary to principles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and outcome 9.2 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.
The respondent had deliberately misled the SRA and a professional indemnity insurer by deliberately withholding information from the professional indemnity insurer which he knew would be material, and had made statements to the SRA which he knew to be untrue, contrary to principles 2 and 6 and outcome 10.6 of the 2011 code. In so doing he had acted dishonestly.
The respondent had failed to co-operate with the SRA in that he had made statements to the SRA which he knew to be untrue; and had withheld information from the SRA which he knew to be material to the SRA’s investigation contrary to principles 2 and 6, and outcome 10.6 of the 2011 code. In so doing he had acted dishonestly.
The respondent had caused immense harm and damage to the reputation of the profession. Not only had he acted dishonestly, but he had placed his own interests above those of his clients. While the respondent’s dishonesty was not related to client money – in that he had not improperly used client monies for his own purposes – his dishonest conduct was serious, and his explanation had been both incredible and disingenuous.
There were no circumstances sufficient to bring the respondent in line with the exceptional category referred to in the case of Sharma. The only appropriate and proportionate sanction was to strike him off the roll.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £75,000.