- Application 11578-2016
- Admitted 2002
- Hearing 21 June 2017
- Reasons 10 July 2017
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
The respondent had misappropriated client monies in the minimum sum of £31,078.25, in breach of principles 2, 4, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011. In so doing, he had acted dishonestly.
The respondent had provided misleading information to two separate clients when they had contacted him for an update on their files, in breach of principles 2 and 6. In so doing, he had acted dishonestly.
The respondent had specified on his annual practising certificate and registration forms for the practice years 2015/16, that he had ‘never held client money’, when that was untrue, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 7. In so doing, he had acted dishonestly.
The respondent had held and received client money but had failed to have a bank or building society account identifiable as a client account to pay it into, in breach of rules 1.2(a) and (b), 13.1, 13.2 and 14.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.
The respondent had failed to establish and maintain proper accounting systems, and proper internal controls over those systems to ensure compliance with the rules, in breach of rule 1.2(e) of the rules.
The respondent had not kept proper accounting records to show the position with regard to the money held for each client, in breach of rules 1.2(f), 29.1, 29.2, 29.4, 29.9 and 15 of the rules.
The respondent had failed to replace a shortfall of client money promptly on discovery, in breach of rule 7.1 of the rules.
The respondent had failed to notify the SRA promptly that he/his firm was in serious financial difficulty, and had therefore breached principle 7 and failed to achieve outcome 10.03 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.
Dishonesty had been alleged, admitted and proved. The conduct was repeated over a period of 14 months. While there was nothing to suggest that the clients affected had been particularly vulnerable, they had depended on the respondent to carry out his duties and he had failed to be honest with them and had failed to account to them promptly. He had used their monies for his own purposes.
While the respondent had had problems with the LAA, neither that nor general economic conditions amounted to exceptional circumstances. Even without the finding of dishonesty, the misconduct was serious and would probably have justified either striking off or a significant suspension. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £12,152.