• Application 11513-2016

• Hearing 14 December 2016

• Reasons 20 December 2016

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 2000) should pay a fine of £15,000; that the second respondent (admitted 1997) and the third respondent (admitted 1998) should each pay a fine of £10,000; that the fifth respondent (admitted 1996) should pay a fine of £5,000; and that the sixth respondent should pay a fine of £10,000. The SDT further ordered that, as from 14 December 2016 except in accordance with Law Society permission: (i) no solicitor should employ or remunerate, in connection with his practice as a solicitor the sixth respondent; (ii) no employee of a solicitor should employ or remunerate, in connection with the solicitor’s practice the sixth respondent; (iii) no recognised body should employ or remunerate the sixth respondent; no manager or employee of a recognised body should employ or remunerate the sixth respondent in connection with the business of that body; (v) no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit the sixth respondent to be a manager of the body; and (vi) no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit the sixth respondent to have an interest in the body.

The allegations against the first, second and third, fifth and sixth respondents had been dealt with in accordance with an agreed outcome. The case of the fourth respondent was dealt with separately (see application 11513-2016 – Shields (below)). 



While in practice as a principal at Forster Dean Ltd the first, second and third respondents had caused or allowed the retention in the firm’s office bank account of monies received in respect of unpaid disbursements for periods in excess of the time limits prescribed by rule 19 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998 (up to 5 October 2011) and rule 17.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 (after 6 October 2011), and in doing so had breached rules 1.04, 1.05 and 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007, and principles 4, 5, 6 and 10 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011, and had failed to achieve outcomes O(1.1) and O(1.2) of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2011.

They had failed to remedy promptly on discovery breaches of the 1998 rules in breach of rule 7 thereof, and in breach of rule 7 of the 2011 rules and principle 7.

Having been made aware that the firm’s treatment of unpaid professional disbursements was in breach of the relevant accounts rules, they had caused or allowed the firm to revert to such practices in around May 2012 and in so doing had breached principles 6 and 8. 


They had failed to run the firm effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles, in that they had failed to ensure that the firm had appropriate systems in place to identify, prevent and rectify the breaches of the 1998 and 2011 rules identified above, and in doing so had, between 1 October 2010 and 5 October 2011, breached rule 5.01 of the 2007 code; and after 6 October 2011, breached principles 8 and 10 of the 2011 code and failed to achieve outcomes O(7.2), O(7.3), O(7.4) and O(10.3) of the 2011 code. 



Further, the first respondent, in his capacity as the firm’s compliance officer for legal practice, had failed to ensure compliance with the firm’s regulatory obligations and had failed to report material issues to the SRA contrary to rule 8.5 of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011.

The fifth respondent, while in practice as a principal at the firm, had caused or allowed the retention in office bank account of monies received in respect of unpaid disbursements in excess of the time limits prescribed by rule 19 of the 1998 rules, and in doing so had: breached rules 1.04, 1.05 and 1.06 of the 2007 code; failed to remedy promptly on discovery breaches of the 1998 rules in breach of rule 7 thereof; and had failed to run the firm effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles in that he had failed to ensure that the firm had appropriate systems in place to identify, prevent and rectify the breaches of the 1998 rules identified above and in doing so had breached rule 5.01 of the 2007 code. 


The sixth respondent had been guilty of conduct of such a nature that in the opinion of the SRA it would be undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice in one or more of the ways mentioned in section 43(1)(a) of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended) in that he, while employed as the firm’s finance director and compliance officer for finance and administration had: (i) caused or allowed the retention in office bank account of monies received in respect of unpaid disbursements in excess of the time limits prescribed by rule 17.1 of the 2011 rules; (ii) failed to remedy promptly upon discovery breaches of the 2011 rules in breach of rule 7 thereof; (iii) having been made aware that the firm’s treatment of unpaid professional disbursements was in breach of the relevant accounts rules, caused or allowed the firm to revert to such practices in around May 2012; and (iv) in relation to the matters set out at (i) and (iii), acted in a manner that amounted to a failure to act with integrity. 


Further, the sixth respondent, in his capacity as the firm’s compliance officer for finance and administration, had failed to ensure that the firm and its managers and employees complied with the 2011 rules contrary to rule 8.5 of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011.

The first, second, third, fifth and sixth respondents were each ordered to pay costs of £5,000.