• Application 11605-2017
• Hearing 24 November 2017
• Reasons 6 December 2017
The SDT ordered that the second respondent (admitted 1988) and the third respondent (admitted 1993) should each pay a fine of £5,000.
The matter was dealt with by way of the agreed outcome procedure in respect of the second and third respondents. The first respondent was not a party to the proposed agreed outcome and was dealt with separately.
While in practice as principals at Beech Jones Limited, the second and third respondents, having received monies for the purpose of discharging professional disbursements had failed either to pay those disbursements on to the appropriate recipients and/or in the absence of such payments to transfer the monies from office to client account in breach of rule 17.1(1)(b) of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.
They had failed to ensure that all dealings with client money were appropriately recorded in breach of rule 29.1 of the rules.
They had allowed or acquiesced in their firm entering into liquidation in circumstances where there were insufficient funds to discharge all liabilities, and by so doing had failed to run their business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound risk management principles, in breach of principle 8 of the SRA Principles 2011.
As to their culpability, neither the second nor third respondent was the COLP or COFA and they had had very limited control and responsibility for the circumstances giving rise to the allegations which they had admitted.
However, both the second and third respondents were directors and experienced solicitors. The admitted breaches of the accounts rules showed that they had allowed (even if unknowingly) a particular situation to exist at the firm. The disbursements which had given rise to the issues were in the litigation work of the firm, an area in which neither the second nor third respondent practised.
The second and third respondents merited the same level of sanction. A fine was appropriate. The second respondent was ordered to pay costs of £8,300; the third respondent costs of £2,000.