Legal Professional Removed For Violations

| General

In early December 2022, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal handed down its judgment in which it unceremoniously handed down an order striking off a legal professional from the prestigious roll of solicitors who had achieved the mantle of a solicitor in connection with allegations of contempt of court and violations of numerous court orders.      

What Happened In The Case?

In similar cases of this kind, the legal professional had reached the Role of Solicitors in the mid-nineteen eighties and had accrued more than three decades’ worth of experience in the profession. However, all of this career success was seemingly washed away in one fell swoop when the Solicitors Regulation Authority appear to have felt compelled to launch an investigation into events that had taken place in April 2018 whereby the legal professional had received instructions from a business specializing in the development of properties to purchase a large castle and to transfer the property some American investors sent the lawyer a substantial amount of money in the amount of over ten million pounds. The legal professional had made promises to pay monies to the court and supported this by way of an undertaking. However, the regulator was particularly upset about the evidence suggesting that the legal professional had consistently violated the undertakings to pay the unlawfully obtain monies that had been given.    

Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out…

In late November 2022, the legal professional seemingly ran out of the road when he received of a decade-long custodial incarceration in the Crown Court. However, this was not the end of the line for the legal professional at the heart of the proceedings as the legal industry became involved due to the breach of his professional obligations. The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal appears to have wanted to make an example of the legal profession and in the interests of safeguarding the public interest decided that nothing short of a ruling which had the effect of removing him from the Roll of Solicitors would be sufficient in all circumstances of the case.   

So What Is An Undertaking?

When a legal professional is seeking out a definition for the term undertaking, they should look no further than the guidance provided by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, They make clear that an undertaking is a declaration, made to another person who depends upon it, that the legal representative or a third person will carry out some activity, make something happen or stop a course of conduct. The Law Society delved into a bit more detail as to what it regards as an undertaking. 

Undertakings Have to Be in Writing, Right?

Many people may be of the belief that such declarations made that are classified as undertakings are required to be in a written form. However, such persons having this belief may be living under a cloud of misconception. This is because the Law Society advises contrary to popular belief that such declaratory statements made by legal representatives can be made in either written or oral format.  

Lessons Learned? 

To mitigate the risk of being sanctioned for breaches of undertakings legal professionals need to be taking steps including but not limited to: 

  • return any monies involved promptly if errors are made, identified, and spotted  
  • avoid misleading clients to delay the progress of transactions by not allowing unidentifiable persons to borrow monies held in designated client accounts and
  • ensure undertakings are cautiously compiled
  • conduct themselves with honesty and integrity 
  • avoid being submissive and agile in their approach to undertakings and
  • caution must be exercised because once such a declaratory statement is made it cannot be withdrawn on a one-sided basis. 

ASSESSING FIRMS

#BlakeMorgan #LClyde&CoLLP #CapsticksLLP #Hempsons #KingsleyNapleyLLP #RadcliffesLeBrasseur #BatesWells #CMS #DACBeachcroftLLP #FieldFisher #HerbertSmithFreehills #Russell-CookeLLP #BlackfordsLLP #CharlesRussellSpeechlysLLP #KeoughLLP #MurdochsSolicitors #StepehensonsSolicItorsLLP

THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES 

[SOURCE 1] Hyde, John, Solicitor serving 12 years in prison struck off – Law Society Gazette – 13 January 2023 - Solicitor serving 12 years in prison struck off | News | Law Gazette

[SOURCE 2] Solicitors Regulation Authority Ltd v Stephen David Jones [2022] – Case Number 12312-2022 - 12312.2022.Jones_.pdf (solicitorstribunal.org.uk)

[SOURCE 3] SRA Code of Conduct 2011

[SOURCE 4] The Law Society – Professional undertakings – 07 September 2022 - Professional undertakings | The Law Society

[SOURCE 5[ Quayle, Ian – How Should conveyancers Approach Undertakings – Todays Conveyancer -  01 August 2022 - How should conveyancers approach undertakings? | Today's Conveyancer (todaysconveyancer.co.uk) 

[SOURCE 6] Brooke Homes (Bicester) Limited v Portfolio Properties Partners Limited [2021] EWHC 3015 (Ch)

[SOURCE 7]

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