Dishonest paralegal, drink driving, AML failure – SRA hands out penalties

police station

Police station: Paralegal was not present

A paralegal who used case files he had not worked on as part of his application to be an accredited police station representative has been banned from the profession.

Elliot Parker can only work for law firms with the permission of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) following a regulatory settlement agreement published yesterday.

Mr Parker worked for midlands firm Ian Henery Solicitors for a year to September 2021. The firm has since closed, with its criminal department taken over by GT Stewart.

He was training to be an accredited police station representative and submitted to the course provider for his portfolio case studies which purported to show that he had shadowed his supervisor during two attendances at a police station. However, he had not.

Mr Parker subsequently contacted the course provider and asked for the case studies to be withdrawn from the assessment process, but was told it was too late as they had already been sent to an assessor.

He then told the course provider that he had used case files completed by his supervisor during her own attendances at the police station.

He admitted to the firm what he had done. Following a disciplinary meeting, Mr Parker offered his resignation, which the firm accepted.

In mitigation, Mr Parker pointed out that he had informed both the course provider and the firm of his actions and had apologised.

The SRA said the banning order, made under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974, was appropriate because his conduct was “dishonest, demonstrating a propensity to mislead others”.

Separately, in another agreement, Surinder Manak of Kent firm Manak Lawyers accepted a fine of £750 after he was convicted, on pleading guilty, of drink driving and failing to stop his vehicle when required to do so.

He was disqualified from driving for 17 months (reduced by 25% after he attend a rehabilitation course) and fined £3,065. He was also ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £181.

In mitigation, Mr Manak said this was an isolated incident, that he promptly reported his conviction to the SRA and “has shown insight and remorse in respect of his conduct”.

The regulator said a fine was appropriate to uphold public confidence in the profession and would “deter Mr Manak and others from similar behaviour in the future”.

Finally, Bedford sole practitioner Robin Edward Stubbings, of the firm CC Bell & Son, has become the latest to be fined for failing to have in place a firm-wide risk assessment for the purposes of anti-money laundering (AML).

He had incorrectly declared to the SRA that the firm’s risk assessment was compliant back in 2020.

Mr Stubbings also did not establish AML policies, controls and procedures, which he said was because he did not think a recognised sole practice needed to have them.

“This is incorrect because firms of all sizes may be targeted by money launderers,” said the SRA in another regulatory settlement agreement.

The SRA fined him £2,000, noting there was “no evidence of harm to consumers or third parties” and that Mr Stubbings and his firm did not financially benefit from the misconduct.

He admitted failing in his “basic duties regarding statutory money laundering regulations and regulatory compliance”.

In 2019, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal fined Mr Stubbings £15,000 after he failed to complete several probate matters promptly, with one taking 15 years.

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