Wilfully Blind Legal Professional Suspended

| General


On Armistice Day 2022 a story hit the legal headlines of a professional who seemed to have climbed the greasy pole of the legal profession, dragged himself to the top of the mountain, and achieved the accolade of qualified lawyer…no mean feat I am sure the reader of the article would no doubt agree with the writer. However, the legal professional’s success found him suspended from the profession for twelve months.   

What Happened In the Case?

The legal professional was approached by a client and received instructions regarding the transfer of title in two properties. By way of context, the lawyer carried out the legal side of the ledger on behalf of both the vendor and the purchaser. Normally transactions would have been completed without fuss, comment, or trouble whatsoever. However, this was not the ordinary course of dealings, to say the least. This was because evidence that surfaced appeared to suggest that the legal professional had negated to identify indicators of a client potentially being taken advantage of or the suggestion of fraudulent activity taking place during the transaction. The client in question appears to have indicated that she had a disability namely the condition known as autism and appeared to be the equivalent of a twelve-year-old child. 

Evidence was submitted to the Regulator that the title was permitted to pass by the legal professional even though he had some suspicion regarding the client’s ability to deal with his monetary situation and sign up for contractual arrangements.    

Pages Turned…Lessons Learned?

In light of the circumstances which took place in this case, legal professionals who find themselves facing similar circumstances should be: 

  • mindful of own personal ethical position by consciously recognizing  
     
  • strongly considering upholding their integrity
     
  • turning a so-called ‘blind eye’, ignoring or wilfully deciding not to see data that comes to light or emerges regarding the circumstances of cases they are dealing with
     
  • identifying when matters in their caseload of files lack strong prospects of success
     
  • realizing this early will avoid legal professionals from allocating firm or department resources to cases with lower chances of success
     
  • submitting claim paperwork to the respective and relevant court within the relevant case management and limitation date deadline 
     
  • honestly and openly communicating to clients that legal professionals have missed important case management and limitation deadlines
     
  • mitigating the risk of cover-ups and this will reduce the possibility of later accusations of dishonesty at a later stage  
     
  • acting with honesty and integrity at all stages of a file from initial instructions to archiving and
     
  • conducting themselves with independence at all times. 

If legal professionals take the above action at an early stage it will significantly reduce the probability of having the respective matters being investigated by the legal industry regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, being struck off and facing sanctions in the form of financial fines or needing to gain the permission of the regulator to continue practicing in the profession. Such action will reduce the chances of losing or being in receipt of restrictions on their respective practicing certificates. The Solicitors Regulation Authority appears to believe in the adage that sunlight is the best disinfectant and proceeds to advise all legal professionals with aspirations of pursuing a career in the legal profession, those who have been fortuitous enough to have established themselves in a lengthy career and any form of a professional person to put in place a working environment which gives legal professionals license to transparently communicate when errors occur.  

ASSESSING FIRMS

#AddleshawGoddard #CMS #EvershedsSutherlandLLP #DLAPiper #PinsentMasonsLLP #Shoosmiths #BrabnersLLP #DavittJonesBould #DWF #GateleyPlc #HillDickinsonLLP #JMWSolicitorsLLP #KuitSteinartLevy #Mills&Reeve #SquirePatonBoggs #TLT #Clyde&CoLLP #BrowneJacobson

SOURCES USED WHEN WRITING THIS ARTICLE

[SOURCE 1] Hyde, John – Solicitor with ‘complete blind spot’ for client care suspended – 11 November 2022 – Law Society Gazette - Solicitor with 'complete blind spot' for client care suspended | News | Law Gazette

[SOURCE 2] Solicitors Regulation Authority – Integrity and ethics – 23 November 2020 - SRA | Integrity, and ethics | Solicitors Regulation Authority

[SOURCE 3] Solicitors Regulation Authority – Market Landscape – 23 November 2020 - SRA | Market landscape in 2020 | Solicitors Regulation Authority

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