A claimant solicitor has been suspended by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) for three years, for ‘disappointing’ misconduct, after his firm pursued personal injury claims without obtaining consent from clients and payed referral fees, which have been prohibited since April of 2013.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), in 2014, sent an investigator to the claimant solicitors’ practice and reviewed 36 client files. The firm was found to have ‘no written confirmation of any sort of instructions and, also in 22 files, the client had actually notified the firm that they did not wish to pursue a claim’.[i] 3rd party insurers were also mislead that the solicitors were instructed, with the ambition of obtaining pre-medical offers.
In 2013 and 2014, the firm still continued with this practice, even after they had received complaints from clients.
Then, in 2017, when the firm was closed down, the SRA investigated the firm once more and laid further charges. This was because it had claimed costs from clients in unsuccessful cases when they had been assured that they would not have to pay.
The solicitor had already been suspended for 6 months prior to the tribunal. Subsequently, the SDT have further imposed a suspension of 30 months. After the full-term of the suspension has been served, the solicitor will not be allowed to ‘hold a management position’. It will be at the SRA’s discretion to allow him permission to practice as a solicitor.
The SDT reasoned that the solicitor’s misconduct was ‘in the nature of sins of omission rather than commission, but the misconduct was repeated’ and ‘The overall impression ... of his conduct was that he and his firm had little regard for the interests of his clients ... the respondent had lost his ethical compass’. As such, the SDT described the solicitor’s conduct as ‘shocking and outrageous and had a significant adverse impact on the reputation of the profession’[ii]
The suspended solicitor was also ordered to pay £50,000 in costs.
[i] Neil Rose, ‘Suspension for solicitor whose firm pursued PI claims without instructions and paid referral fees’ (2 February 2018 Legal Futures) <https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/suspension-solicitor-whose-firm-pursued-pi-claims-without-instructions-paid-referral-fees> accessed 8 February 2018.