Three solicitors with convictions for drink-driving have been sanctioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) after signing regulatory settlement agreements.
They were all rebuked and ordered to pay the SRA’s investigation costs of £300. Two of them were also fined.
Such convictions are evidence that a solicitor has failed to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in them in breach of principle 6 of the SRA Principles.
In each case, the SRA said the agreement was a “proportionate outcome in the public interest because it creates a credible deterrent to [the solicitor] and others and upholds public confidence in the delivery of legal services”.
Jayne Marie McLaughlin, a solicitor at Cheshire East Borough Council, received the largest fine of £1,000.
She was convicted of drink-driving in November last year and disqualified from driving for three years – reduced by 36 weeks if she completed a drink-driving awareness course.
Ms McLaughlin was fined £320 by the court and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £32 and costs of £85.
The SRA said it had taken into account the solicitor’s mitigation that this was an isolated incident and “longstanding personal issues relating to her health caused her stress at the time of the offence”.
The regulator added that the solicitor had “engaged with support services to address her health issues”, while she had shown remorse for her actions.
Phillip Whitehurst, a solicitor at commercial firm DTM Legal in Chester, was fined £750 by the regulator.
He was convicted of drink-driving in July last year, and put under a curfew for four weeks, with electronic monitoring.
Mr Whitehurst was disqualified from driving for 24 months, reduced to 18 months subject to completion of a drink-driving awareness course. The court ordered him to pay a victim surcharge of £85 and costs of £85.
The SRA said it had taken into account his mitigation that this was an isolated incident and “personal issues relating to his health caused him stress at the time of the offence”, and that he too had shown remorse.
Marveen Smith, a solicitor at property specialists PainSmith Solicitors in Alton, Hampshire, was not fined.
Ms Smith was convicted in February this year. She was disqualified for 12 months, fined £500 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £50 and costs of £85.