Another large firm to face Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

Howard Kennedy: Alleged accounts rules breaches

Howard Kennedy has become the latest large London practice to face action from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) after four solicitors and the firm itself were referred to a disciplinary tribunal over alleged accounts rules breaches.

Last year, Clifford Chance, Clyde & Co, White & Case, Locke Lord all received fines – with the latter’s £500,000 the highest – for a variety of rule breaches.

The four solicitors are real estate partners Paul Amandini, Eric Gummers and Mark Johnstone, along with former partner and then consultant Christopher Langford.

Mr Langford is listed on the Law Society’s ‘Find a Solicitor’ database as not practising.

In all the various allegations, the SRA specified that they did not involve the misappropriation or misapplication of client money

It found a case to answer for Howard Kennedy over accounts rules breach between July 2009 and January 2015.

The firm is also accused of not putting in place “any, or any adequate measures” to prevent accounts rules breaches by an employee and not reporting the employee’s breach to the regulator for three years after becoming aware of it.

All four solicitors face the same first charge, although in each case the alleged breaches took place for differing periods of time – six years in the case of Mr Langford, three years for Mr Amandini and Mr Gummers, and three months for Mr Johnstone.

In addition, Mr Gummers is alleged to have breached the accounts rules “whilst acting in a second matter which concerned a family settlement of which he was a beneficiary”.

A further charge against Mr Langford is that “from November 2013 onwards he continued to render professional services to a client as a solicitor whilst also being the sole shareholder of a company which was receiving remuneration from that client for services rendered to him otherwise than in course of legal practice”.

All charges are currently unproven. Howard Kennedy had no comment.

    Readers Comments

  • George Morrison says:

    I joined the legal profession when I was 15 years old and promoted to be the firm’s book-keeper on my 16th birthday. I got a rise of two shillings and sixpence to go with the promotion. Solicitors’ book-keeping is easy. You have client’s money and your own money. You keep them separate and apart until an occasion arises when your money is used for their purposes or their money becomes your money to repay a disbursement or pay you your costs.
    It is not now and never was “rocket science”
    It only becomes “messy” or complicated when one departs from the basics and starts trying to “bend the rules” or when someone has not bothered to learn them.

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