Lawyer Sanctioned Over Property Misconduct

In mid-May, 2023 legal profession’s strong arm of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal dished out a meaty financial sanction in an amount just shy of fifty thousand pounds to a legal professional over allegations of wilfully ignoring the possibility that there may have been a conflict of interests.    

What Happened In The Case?

The legal professional appears to have enjoyed a thriving career. He attained his practicing certificate in 1999 and appears to have accrued approximately one quarter of a century of expertise within the legal profession. He then progressed to the position of lead lawyer in the commercial conveyancing department. However, the legal professional found himself in the relegation zone when his professional character was questioned. The legal professional appears to have received instructions from a property developer and acted for both vendors and purchasers under a scheme intended to convey approximately five-hundred properties. Files had also been opened for forteen files involving the United Kingdom’s Northern Powerhouse project. However, thirty-five-per-cent of the latter did not proceed.  

Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out…

The matter attracted the attention of the regulatory authorities after the televisual press seemed to have shone a spotlight on the perceptive wastage of substantial sums of financial resources which appears to have emanated from numerous capitalist backers for transactions that failed to finalize. The matter was taken very seriously and the Serious Fraud Office probed. Finally recognizing his errors the legal professional communicated with the SRA via a report that he had left both himself and the legal services provider exposed to a situation whereby there was a potential conflict of interest by representing both purchasers and vendors on the conveyance of properties.     
What Did the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Say?
The industry regulator commented that the associate lawyer had carried out his services whilst risking a conflict of interest and neglecting his duty to sustain the image of the legal profession in the collective mind of the wider populous. 

Lessons Learned? 

Legal professionals should be reading this case closely and taking the following messages on board to mitigate the likelihood of finding themselves barred from being able to provide their services in the legal profession. They need to be strongly considering taking the following mitigating action to avert professional catastrophe, including: 
-    handle files involving transactions involving property
-    acting cautiously when taking instructions from clients 
-    ensuring they are aware of what the definition of conflict of interest consists of
-    being aware that this is legally defined as a situation whereby there is the clash or risk of a clash between two competing interests about the same matter
-    ensuring that they can identify when such conflicts of interest materialize
-    keep themselves abreast of the regulatory requirements about conflicts of interest
-    not closing their eyes to the presence of circumstances that may potentially give rise to the suspicion of a conflict of interests 
-    communicating such suspicions of a conflict of interest to senior colleagues
-    advising clients that they potentially cannot continue acting for them about the respective transaction and
-    strongly considering such affected clients to approach another legal professional for a more independent view on their particular legal transaction.
If legal professionals follow the guidelines set out above, they may potentially be in a better position to spot situations equating to a conflict of interest and being handed down a significant financial sanction against them. 
If you as a reader have experienced something similar, or have an opposing point of view, please kindly leave a comment on the article or contact us. 


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