• Application 11751-2017
  • Admitted 1973
  • Hearing 14 February 2018
  • Reasons 22 February 2018

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for 12 months from 14 February 2018. 

Upon the expiry of that suspension, the respondent should be subject indefinitely to the following conditions: that he might not (i) practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body; (ii) be a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice or alternative business structure or other authorised or recognised body; (iii) be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; (iv) hold client money; (v) be a signatory on any client account; (vi) work as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the SRA; with liberty to either party to apply to vary those conditions.

The matter was dealt with by way of the agreed outcome procedure.

While in practice as a solicitor and consultant at Buss Murton Law LLP, and while instructed by all or any of the clients identified in schedule 1 to the Rule 5 statement, the respondent had involved himself and the firm in one or more investment schemes and/or transactions which were dubious, in breach of rules 1.02 and 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007, principles 2, 6 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011 and outcome 11.1 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

He had caused or allowed the firm’s client account to be used improperly, namely as a banking facility, in the absence of (i) an underlying legal transaction and/or (ii) a service forming part of his normal regulated activities, in breach of the principle in Wood and Burdett (No. 8669/2002) (referred to in note (ix) to rule 15 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998), rule 1.06 of the 2007 code, rule 14.5 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, and principles 6 and 8.

Dishonesty had not been alleged, though lack of integrity was always a serious matter. There had been no underlying fraud alleged in the case, rather schemes that were objectively dubious.

The matter had been hanging over the respondent’s head for a significant period of time. He had a 44-year unblemished career behind him.

A 12-month suspension was the appropriate and proportionate sanction in all the circumstances. It was necessary for the protection of the public to impose conditions.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £18,000.