• Application 11602-2017
  • Admitted 2006
  • Hearing 16 January 2018
  • Reasons 31 January 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for two years from 16 January 2018, that period of suspension to be suspended for two years from the same date subject to compliance by the respondent with the following restrictions. He had to provide half-yearly reports to the SRA from a recognised medical practitioner as to his mental health and fitness to practise, the first such report to be submitted by 16 July 2018. The report had to include details of what course of treatment he had received and his current prognosis. He might not practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body; be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; hold client money; be a signatory on any client account; and work as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the SRA. He had to inform his current employer and any prospective employer of the existence of those conditions and the reasons for them together with details of his mental health record. 

If the respondent was found to have breached any of the conditions set out above during the period of two years under restriction, or a medical report was produced showing that he was not fit to practise, activation of the two years’ suspension would follow, in addition to any sanction imposed for the breach of condition(s). There was liberty to either party to apply to vary the conditions.

By failing to ensure that the necessary applications to facilitate the restructuring of three companies on behalf of his client H had been received by the Financial Conduct Authority, the respondent had breached principles 4 and 5 of the SRA Principles 2011.

By misleading his client that he had submitted those applications to the FCA, and as to the subsequent progress of those applications, he had breached principles 2, 4, 5 and 6. He had acted dishonestly.

Absent exceptional circumstances the appropriate sanction was for the respondent to be struck off. The misconduct had arisen at a time when he was affected by mental ill-health that had affected his ability to conduct himself to the standards of the reasonable solicitor. That was an exceptional circumstance.

In light of that conclusion, the appropriate sanction was a two-year fixed-term suspension. The combination of a restriction order with a period of pending suspension would provide adequate protection against the risk of harm to the public and the public’s confidence in the reputation of the legal profession.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £9,770.