Rose Elizabeth Egarr and Andrew Walsh

  • Application 11596-2017
  • Hearing 4 July 2017
  • Reasons 11 August 2017

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1984) should be struck off the roll, and that the second respondent, a solicitor’s clerk, should pay a fine of £8,000.

The first respondent had paid or caused to be paid to a client, MM, between approximately £80,000 and £100,000 from funds held on her firm’s general client account to which she knew MM had no entitlement, in breach of rule 20.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 2, 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. In so doing she had acted dishonestly.

There existed a shortfall on the firm’s general client account of at least £69,990. The first respondent had thereby breached rule 20.6 of the rules and principles 6 and 10.

She had attempted to mislead the SRA forensic investigation officer in breach of principles 2, 6 and 7. In so doing, she had acted dishonestly.

She had failed to ensure that proper accounting records were kept, in breach of rule 1.2(f) of the 2011 rules and principles 6 and 10.

She had failed to ensure that client account reconciliations were undertaken every five weeks, in breach of rule 29.12 of the rules and principles 6 and 10.

She had failed to comply with conditions imposed on her practising certificate in breach of principle 7.

She had failed to ensure that her firm had an approved COLP and an approved COFA, in breach of rule 8.5 of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011 and principle 7.

She had practised as a sole practitioner without authorisation, in breach of rule 10.1 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011 and principle 7.

She had failed to cooperate with the SRA in its investigation into her misconduct following its intervention into her firm, in breach of principle 7 and outcome 10.6 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

The second respondent had carried out withdrawals of funds from client account in the knowledge that those funds would be loaned to someone who had no entitlement to them, namely MM, in breach of rule 20.1 of the rules and principles 2, 6 and 10.

He had failed to keep proper accounting records in breach of rule 1.2(f) of the 2011 rules and principles 6 and 10.

Notwithstanding that he was the firm’s COFA, he had failed to report to the SRA the improper withdrawals of client funds described above, and the fact that the firm’s books of account were not in order, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 7, and had failed to achieve outcomes 10.1 and 10.4.

The first respondent’s misconduct had been very serious. She had done nothing to make good the losses which her actions had caused and the only mitigation apparent was that she had a previously unblemished career.

There was no evidence of exceptional circumstances and striking off would be a reasonable and proportionate sanction.

The second respondent had not been the primary actor in the misconduct but he had assisted the first respondent by facilitating unauthorised transfers, and he had singularly failed in his role as a COFA and keeper of the firm’s accounts.

The first respondent was ordered to pay costs of £22,760, and the second respondent £5,690.