Lawyer Banned For Ignoring Personal Bankruptcy Order

| General

In mid-May 2023 industry regulator the Solicitors Regulation Authority through the vehicle of the esteemed panel at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal handed down its judgment to a legal professional who emanated from the female demographic and had achieved the much-sought-after accolade of solicitor. The content of the judgment effectively barred her from practicing for an unlimited period of time for wilfully ignoring the fact that she had been declared bankrupt and inexplicably continued to operate in the office of solicitor. 

What Happened In The Case?

The case involved a legal professional who had enjoyed eight years of qualification. However in January 2020 the lawyer received a judgment allocating her bankruptcy status preventing her from operating in the legal profession as a solicitor immediately.              

Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out…

Normally persons facing this precarious position would take their punishment, comply and wait until the matter blows over. However, the legal professional appears to have thought it appropriate to ignore the order and continue operating for just under one year for two separate legal service providers as a locum. She must have thought she had gotten away with it, dipped under the proverbial radar and evaded suspicion. Unfortunately for the lawyer her luck was about to run out. Her seemingly complacent attitude came back to bite her when industry oversight body the Solicitors Regulation Authority seems to have been alerted to the fact that the legal professional was still operating within the industry despite being restricted. 

On receiving the information regarding the lawyer still seeming to be operating it appears to have taken the matter very seriously and launched a probe into her conduct. As part of its investigative process the regulator approached the legal professional for her perspective on what had taken place. When it did so the legal professional communicated that she had been the victim of a witch hunt by a person living in the nearby vicinity of her property and requested to know the identity of the party who had provided it with the information at the heart of its inquiry. As time went on the legal professional disclosed to the industry regulator that she had been allocated bankruptcy status in connection with a Council Tax bill that her property landlord had outstanding on their record. The legal professional claimed she was in the dark about the temporary restriction placed upon her practising certificate.  However, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal took a dim view of the lawyer’s behaviour for the following reasons as she had: 
-    neglected to give any thought to the effect the bankruptcy order may have had on her ability to professionally operate 
-    been wilfully-blind to the legal requirements governing the profession regarding communicating with the regulator the limitation from acting with immediate effect
-    acted in this way with her eyes wide open
-    continued operating in the profession whilst the limitation was present on her record 
-    not waited until the time of restriction expired and 
-    did not request a formal order from the SDT ending the limitation.  

Lessons Learned?

To mitigate the risk of lawyers being banned they should learn lessons from this judgment and ensure they are:
-    keeping on top of their personal finances
-    updating the SRA immediately of bankruptcy issues
-    not operating during a limitation period and
-    submitting a request to continue practising at the conclusion of the time period.  
If you have experienced something similar, or have an opposing viewpoint, please kindly leave a comment on the article or contact us.  

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