End of the line for fare-dodging solicitors

Ticketing offences: Failing to pay for travel

Two solicitors have been struck off for dishonestly obtaining rail travel without paying – one a newly qualified barely a year into his career and the other who had not practised since soon after he qualified almost 15 years earlier.

The young solicitor, Adam Kemeny, saved paying up to £650 in rail fares over a three-month period between July and October 2017 by declining to buy £11 tickets for his morning commutes from London and failing to ‘tap out’ at his destination in Surrey.

He did pay for the much cheaper return journeys.

Mr Kemeny, who was born in 1985 and admitted in 2016, self-reported his misconduct after reaching a private settlement to pay the rail company, Govia Thameslink, £650 in outstanding fares and £200 in costs.

He was summarily dismissed by his firm. Since then, he was worked in-house and more recently as an e-discovery document reviewer – he had needed a practising certificate to get the work, but he did not practise as a solicitor in the role.

He told the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal that he was deeply embarrassed by his actions. He explained that failing to swipe in at Redhill Station became a “habit he could not stop”.

The tribunal determined that Mr Kemeny chose not to pay the fares and could afford to buy the tickets. His salary as a solicitor was £38,000 a year and his bank account was in credit for much of the material period.

It held he was wholly culpable for what had occurred. The misconduct was “deliberate and calculated or repeated”. He had only come clean after he was caught.

The tribunal said Mr Kemeny had not shown much insight into what he had done: “He seemed to think that, because he had plans to transfer to an office nearer home or to move nearer to the Redhill office, this made his dishonesty less serious.”

He had also been “somewhat evasive” under cross-examination. No exceptional circumstances applied and strike-off was the only appropriate sanction. He was ordered to pay £3,082 costs.

Meanwhile, Babatunde Adegboyega Taiwo was a manager for Transport for London (TfL) in January 2016 when he was found by inspectors to have been travelling between King’s Cross and his home in Peterborough using concessionary staff travel cards that were not to be used either by him or for work-related journeys.

Among other things, Mr Taiwo was accused of dishonestly altering the date on one of the cards to mislead the rail company it was valid.

He qualified in 2001 via the then Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test and not practised since September 2002.

He was summarily dismissed by TfL for breach of contract.

Striking him off, the tribunal said that although he had no practical experience as a solicitor, he was known to be one and had “departed from the complete integrity, probity and trustworthiness expected of a solicitor to a considerable extent”.

He was ordered to pay £4,400 in costs.

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