Two solicitors who acted for a client despite a conflict of interests have been ordered to pay £20,000 of fines and £50,000 of costs by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Eric Christopher Evans, admitted in 1980, and David Alan Whiteley, admitted in 1987, admitted to acting for a client despite there being a conflict of interest or a significant risk of a conflict of between their own interests and those of the client.
According to the judgment, the case involved the sale of the freehold of four sites to ‘O or O’s nominees’ in 2009 and 2010. Evans and Whiteley, who were equity partners at M&A Solicitors LLP at the time, were both beneficial owners of O and had financial interests in the transaction.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority initially made allegations of dishonesty but withdrew them after reading the respondents’ witness statements and reviewing other supporting evidence.
In mitigation, Evans and Whiteley apologised unreservedly to the tribunal and said their misconduct was the result of an ‘honest error’. They added that they did not have any intention of working as solicitors again, their practising certificates having terminated in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
According to the judgment, the tribunal ‘was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondents’ admissions were properly made’.
Evans and Whiteley were each ordered to pay a fine of £10,000 and each ordered to pay costs of £25,000.