• Application 11684-2017
  • Hearing 12 January 2018
  • Reasons 25 January 2018

The SDT ordered that, as from 12 January 2018, except in accordance with Law Society permission, no solicitor should employ or remunerate the first respondent in connection with his practice as a solicitor; no employee of a solicitor should employ or remunerate the first respondent in connection with the solicitor’s practice; no recognised body should employ or remunerate the first respondent; no manager or employee of a recognised body should employ or remunerate the first respondent in connection with the business of that body; no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit the first respondent to be a manager of the body; and no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit the first respondent to have an interest in the body. It was further ordered that the first respondent should pay a fine of £6,000.

The SDT ordered that the second respondent (admitted 1988) should pay a fine of £12,500; that the third respondent (admitted 2008) should pay a fine of £7,501; that the fourth respondent (admitted 2005) should pay a fine of £5,000; and that the fifth respondent (admitted 1977) should pay a fine of £1,000.

While the second, third, fourth and fifth respondents were in practice as members of Geoffrey Parker Bourne Ltd and as members of GPB Solicitors LLP, as a consequence of failure to ensure the systems in place were properly controlled, transfers from client account to office account had been made other than in circumstances allowed under rule 22 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998 and rule 20 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, in breach of rules 1.06 and 5.01 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007 and of principles 6, 8 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011.

The second, third, fourth and fifth respondents had failed to remedy promptly on discovery breaches of the 2011 rules, in breach of rule 7.

The first respondent had been guilty of conduct of such a nature that in the opinion of the SRA it was undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice, in that, as a consequence of failing to ensure the systems in place were properly controlled, transfers from client account to office account had been made other than in circumstances allowed under rule 22 of the 1998 rules and rule 20 of the 2011 rules, in breach of rules 1.06 and 5.01 of the code and of principles 6, 8, and 10.

The first respondent had failed to remedy promptly on discovery breaches of the 2011 rules, in breach of rule 7.

The third respondent, in her capacity as the compliance officer for finance and administration at the successor firm and at the ABS, had failed to ensure or take adequate steps to ensure compliance with the firm’s obligations under the 2011 rules, contrary to rule 8.5 of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011.

The SDT had reviewed all the material before it and was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondents’ admissions had been properly made and, having determined that the proposed sanctions were appropriate and proportionate, it had granted the application for matters to be resolved by way of the agreed outcome.

The first, second, third, fourth and fifth respondents were ordered to pay costs of £53,000, such costs to be paid on the basis of joint and several liability.