Vernon James Burke

  • Application 11619-2017
  • Admitted 1992
  • Hearing 25, 26 July 2017
  • Reasons 7 August 2017

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

The respondent had improperly withdrawn £47,205.32 from the client account of a firm of which he was the sole principal, in breach of rules 1.2(c), 20.1, 20.3(b), 20.6 and 20.9 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

He had cleared off residual balances on client accounts to a total value of £3,826.90, in breach of rules 17.2, 20.1 and 20.3(b) of the 2011 rules, and principles 2, 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. In so doing he had acted dishonestly.

He had failed to carry out reconciliations in breach of rule 29.12 of the 2011 rules.

He had operated two suspense ledgers accounts otherwise than in the circumstances provided for by rule 29.25 of the 2011 rules.

Dishonesty had been alleged and proved. The misconduct was not repeated but it was deliberate.

Once the FIO inspection was under way the loss to the clients had been made good. Additionally, the misconduct was a single episode in a previously unblemished career.

It was a sad case and the SDT recognised that the consequences of the imposition of a strike-off for the respondent would be significant. However, if the respondent were not struck off there was risk of harm to the public from the message that would be sent to the profession that it was acceptable to help oneself to small amounts of client money if subsequently it was repaid.

There was no evidence of exceptional circumstances, so the appropriate sanction was for the respondent’s name to be struck off the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £21,000.