• Application 11737-2017
  • Hearing 24 May 2018
  • Reasons 12 June 2018

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1986) should pay a fine of £5,000, and that the second respondent (admitted 1996) should pay a fine of £7,501.

While in practice as partners as Johns and Saggar LLP, the respondents had caused or allowed transfers and withdrawals from the firm’s client account that were unrelated to an underlying legal transaction and had thereby provided a banking facility to clients A and B and/or companies associated with them, in breach of principle 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rule 14.5 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 2011.

The second respondent, while in practice as a partner at the firm had accepted a loan of around £40,000 from client B and/or a company associated with him, in circumstances where he had failed to advise client B to seek independent legal advice in breach of principles 4, 6 and 10, and had failed to achieve outcomes O(1.1), O(1.2) and O(3.4) of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. 

Neither respondent had intended to cause harm, and the harm caused was at the lower end of the spectrum; there had been no departure from the standards of integrity, probity and trustworthiness expected of a solicitor. There were no aggravating features. The mitigating features were that they had no previous matters; they had made full and frank admissions at the outset and had displayed genuine insight. They had sought to ensure that there would be no repeat by attending an accounts rules course.

The appropriate sanction for both respondents was a financial penalty.

The respondents were ordered to pay costs of £15,000, on the basis of joint and several liability.