Rosalind Diana Kathleen Dunning

  • Application 11579-2016
  • Admitted 1980
  • Hearing 20 April 2017
  • Reasons 1 June 2017

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £5,000, and that she should be subject to the following conditions:

That she might not practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body; be a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice or alternative business structure or other authorised or recognised body; or be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration, with liberty to either party to apply to vary those conditions.

By receiving money in respect of professional disbursements from the Legal Aid Agency between 4 January 2011 and 20 May 2015, retaining those sums in office account, and failing either to pay the professional disbursement or pay those sums into client account within 14 days of receipt, the respondent had breached: principles 2, 6, 8 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011; rules 1.02 and 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007; rules 17.1(d) and 19.1(b) of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and, prior to 6 October 2011, rules 19(1)(d) and 21(1)(b) of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998.

The respondent had delayed in refunding money that had been overpaid to the firm by the LAA and had delayed in transferring it into client account until 29 September 2015, and had thereby breached principles 6 and 8.

The respondent had failed to remedy breaches of the 1998 rules promptly on discovery between 4 January 2011 and 29 September 2015, in breach of rule 7 thereof.

By allowing bookkeeping errors to occur and by carrying out a write-off exercise on debit and credit balances from the office account between 31 October 2013 and 30 September 2014, the respondent had breached principles 2, 6, 8 and 10, and rule 29.1.

By failing to report material failures to comply with the principles and 1998 rules, as required under her obligations as the COLP and COFA, the respondent had breached principles 2 and 6; and rules 8.5c(iii) and 8.5e(iii) of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011.

The respondent had relied heavily on her accountants. As soon as she became aware of the breaches, she had made good all losses.

She had acted with a lack of integrity in relation to a narrow aspect of her practice over a limited period of time. It had been in the context of a very heavy professional workload for sometimes vulnerable clients, which had led her to fail to devote the time and attention to the management of her practice which was necessary to ensure full compliance with the professional rules and her obligations to the LAA.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £13,000.