SRA Banned a Legal Professional
Lawyer Struck Off Over Signature Verification
In mid-August 2022 a judgment was handed down by the Industry regulator the Solicitors Regulation Authority which banned a legal professional from operating in the sector for the reason of seeking to evade the need for the courts to give an order. The order given by the Solicitors Regulation Authority stops the legal professional from holding office as a well-respected and senior solicitor in the legal industry.
What Happened In The Case?
The senior solicitor had seemingly paid his dues, claimed the sought-after title of solicitor, and accrued more than fifteen years’ worth of expertise. However, all of his graft has seemingly been discarded when the now-former senior lawyer was faced with a situation where he was responsible for the conduct of the closing stages of a property transaction. The legal professional had just over three weeks to log the property mortgage details on the Property Register. The lawyer seemingly had applied, however the case became very interesting when the Land Registry refused to accept the application owing to the non-payment of the fees. The senior lawyer did what he reasonably could to persuade a colleague holding the position of trainee lawyer to make changes and then subsequent changes to a mortgage document. The senior lawyer then encouraged the trainee lawyer to send it to both Companies House and at that time Her Majestys Land Registry. However, the legal professional received a rude awakening when the application was adjudged time-barred.
The senior lawyer then advised that applying to the court for a time extension was not required and to give the misleading impression that the application was within the twenty-one-day timeframe advised the trainee to alter the mortgage date to a subsequent date. The trainee considered this conduct to be unprofessional but was persuaded by an experienced colleague that it was acceptable to act like this.
O What A Tangled Web We Weave…
The senior lawyers attempted to explain his conduct by putting forward his version of events. When the case meandered its way to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal he argued that he held an honest belief that he was permitted to conduct himself in this manner based on custom and practice. He submitted that during his traineeship and early in his legal career he had been advised by training superiors that using the product Tip-Ex to remove mistakes on legal paperwork was good practice.
What Did The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Say?
However, when the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal assessed the evidence and the purported explanation put forward by the senior lawyer the esteemed panel appears to have poured cold water over his attempt to remove and explain himself. The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal did not appear to have questioned the fact that the senior lawyer possessed a reasonable motivation behind the way he had conducted himself. However, the senior lawyer seemingly failed to persuade the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal with his rebuttal. The panel found that his version of events in response to the allegations lacked credibility, was not believable, and were inconceivable as in their view no legal professionals are operating in the current legal market would think that such unprofessional behavior would be permitted nowadays.
Pages Turned…Lessons Learned
This scenario should focus the minds of lawyers operating in the industry and they need to consider not:
- altering documents
- giving the appearance of a later date appearing on paperwork
- conducting themselves in an unprofessional manner
- let their Continuous Professional Development slide and
- acting with honesty and integrity at all times.
This strategy will mitigate the changes of being barred by the SRA and having their feet held to the fire for their conduct.
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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES
[SOURCE 1] Hyde, John – Solicitor banned for telling trainee to change date on form – Law Society Gazette - 17 August 2022 - Solicitor banned for telling trainee to change date on form | News | Law Gazette
[SOURCE 2] Holmes, William – Ban for partner who told trainee to change date on property document – Legal Cheek – 18 August 2022 - Ban for partner who told trainee to change date on property document - Legal Cheek
[SOURCE 3] Rose, Neil – Trainee solicitor banned for lying about work done for colleague – Legal Futures – 16 September 2022 - Trainee solicitor banned for lying about work done for colleague - Legal Futures