• Application 11503-2016
• Admitted 1986
• Hearing 12, 13 December 2016
• Reasons 17 January 2017
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
The respondent had transferred the sum of £39,962.03 from his client account to his office account on 30 November 2012, in respect of the estate of Mrs L following an assessment by the court that he was only entitled to charge the estate a total sum of £7,922.46. He had thereby breached principles 2, 4 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rule 20.1(a) of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011. In so doing, he had acted dishonestly.
He had failed to take any steps to repay the estate the sum of £39,962.03 despite confirmation from the High Court in July and November 2013 that he was only entitled to charge the estate a total sum of £7,922.46, and had thereby breached principles 2 and 4 and rule 7.1 of the rules. In so doing, he had acted dishonestly.
From 19 January 2012 to 21 November 2012, he had acted contrary to the instructions of his client and had sought to adjust each beneficiary’s share of the estate to benefit himself, and had thereby failed to achieve outcome 3.4 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2011 and had breached principle 2. In so doing, he had acted dishonestly.
Having transferred £1,962 from client account to office account in respect of an unpaid professional disbursement, he had failed by the end of the second working day following receipt of the sum into his office account, either to pay the unpaid disbursement or to transfer a sum for its settlement to a client account, in breach of rule 17.1(b) of the rules.
He had advised Mr N and Mrs M that payment of a disbursement had been made when he knew that it had not, contrary to principle 2. In so doing, he had acted dishonestly.
He had charged his client £1,962 for a professional disbursement when he knew that the disbursement had not been paid, and further that he did not intend to pay the disbursement, in breach of principles 2 and 10. In so doing, he had acted dishonestly.
He had charged his client for his own costs of his defence of the detailed assessment of his costs to be charged to the estate, and had thereby failed to achieve outcome 3.4 of the code and breached principles 2 and 10. In so doing, he had acted dishonestly.
Between 7 April 2014 and 27 May 2014, he had improperly withheld client monies when there was no legitimate reason to do so until his client agreed not to dispute his invoice dated 4 April 2014, and had therefore breached principles 2 and 4.
Between 7 April 2014 and 27 May 2014, he had failed to return client monies to his client promptly as soon as there was no longer any proper reason to retain those client monies, and had thereby breached rule 14.3 of the rules and principles 2 and 4.
Between 17 February 2014 and 10 December 2014, he had failed to pay any interest on client monies when it was fair and reasonable to do so in all the circumstances, and had thereby breached rule 22.1 of the rules.
In March 2014 he had sought to prevent the practices’ accountants from reporting breaches by the practices of the rules to the SRA, and had thereby failed to achieve outcome 10.7 of the code.
The respondent’s motivation appeared to be personal financial gain with an undercurrent of greed. The misconduct was planned, the respondent had acted in breach of trust and dishonesty had been proved. The respondent had concealed his wrongdoing.
There were no exceptional circumstances which meant that the case fell into the very small residual category of dishonesty cases where striking off was not appropriate. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £96,916.