Expensive Mistake Made By Dishonest Lawyer
In late February 2023 industry Regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, through the medium of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal handed down its decision to strike off a legal professional who had achieved the accolade of a solicitor. It appears to be in connection with his allegedly acting less than honestly when the provider of legal services employing him launched a probe into the expenses he had claimed for a vacation.
What Happened In The Case?
The solicitor had seemingly face value achieved a top-notch career and enjoyed a meteoric rise to the prominent title of Partner in a well-renowned legal services provider. Prior to this point, the regulatory authorities do not appear to have had any concerns with the legal professional’s conduct and he had been employed for just shy of two decades. On the evidence, he did not present a regulatory risk.
Despite all career of this success seemingly capitulated when the provider of legal services providing the legal professional with employment identified evidence compelling it to probe into some conduct appearing to indicate that he had conducted himself unprofessionally. The legal professional had seemingly decided to go on a holiday to London with one of his children. He had submitted documentation claiming expenses for the journey. All appeared to be fine until the provider of legal services seems to have spotted discrepancies with the expenses paperwork. Some of the entries appeared doctored. On closer inspection the paperwork appeared to have given the misleading impression to the provider, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal that the entries were added onto the paperwork a significant period of time prior to when it actually took place. The evidence appeared to suggest that the legal professional was fully aware, cognisant, and had knowledge that his purportions were not the true state of affairs at the time shown.
Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out…
The legal professional had claimed that there was nothing to see here. He was confident that he had not done anything wrong. His administration assistant had even graciously provided evidence in person for him and documentary evidence was submitted in the form of a photograph purportedly of billing paperwork from the point when the content had been incorporated into the document. However, no changes had been made to the paperwork in the picture. He perceived the allegations as a personal affront, felt dejected due to being accused of proceeding on a fraudulent business trip and giving a false impression to the provider of legal services. He proceeded to claim that it was politically motivated, and the probe was conducted subjectively.
What Did The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Say?
However, when the SDT reviewed the evidence, it gave little weight to his defense and poured cold water over it. It found evidence appearing to suggest that the legal professional had unprofessionally attempted to hoodwink the regulatory authorities when he doctored the paperwork seemingly immediately before a meeting. The SRA appears to have wanted to make an example of the legal profession. It removed him from the roll of solicitors and sanctioned him with the costs.
Lawyers should take heed of this case and should conduct themselves professionally by:
not doctoring paperwork
avoiding presenting the misleading impression to their provider of legal services that a document had been signed at one time when this is not the case and
Conduct themselves with honesty and integrity at all times.
Following this plan will reduce the likelihood of legal professionals finding themselves in hot water with the regulator.
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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES
[SOURCE 1] Hyde, John – Partner struck off for misleading probe into London trip expenses – Law Society Gazette – 23 February 2023 - Partner struck off for misleading probe into London trip expenses | News | Law Gazette
[SOURCE 2] Solicitors Regulation Authority Principles
[SOURCE 3] Solicitors Regulation Authority Code of Conduct for Solicitors