A solicitor who was caught drink-driving three times in four weeks has been fined £8,000 – reduced to £2,000 due to his finances – by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
Aidan Loy admitted failing to uphold the law and administration of justice, but denied a lack of integrity.
He argued that he was honest, held strong moral principles and had never been dishonest. He said he had informed the Law Society of his convictions within 24 hours.
But the SDT said conduct that “endangered others repeatedly, despite police intervention after the first occasion” was a factor which “engaged and offended the concept of integrity”.
“The tribunal considered that it was relevant that the levels of alcohol were around three times the legal limit and that this exacerbated the seriousness of the offence and the lack of integrity demonstrated.”
Mr Loy also denied failing to maintain public trust in the profession and the provision of legal services, noting that at the time of his drink-driving he was unemployed and did not have a practising certificate.
However, the SDT said it considered that members of the public would be “appalled at the conduct giving rise to the three convictions”.
While it did not relate to his role as a solicitor, aggravating factors included the fact his conduct had endangered others, the “very high level of alcohol” present and the fact the conduct was repeated.
The SDT heard that Mr Loy was born in 1961 and admitted in 1997. He does not hold a current practising certificate.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) was tipped off about his convictions by two members of the public who sent copies of a local newspaper article about him. It emerged that he already had two previous drink-driving convictions.
The SRA said that Mr Loy was given a suspended sentence of 20 weeks imprisonment for the second and third offences, and disqualified from driving for five years.
Mr Loy suggested there may have been a motivation for a malicious referral to the SRA “arising out of a dispute in his private life”.
In mitigation, he referred to ill-health at the time of his convictions – “without providing any supporting evidence”, the tribunal noted – and said he was dependent on benefits.
The SDT considered his conduct to be serious and that a fine of £8,000 was appropriate, which was reduced to £2,000 on account of the solicitor’s limited means.
The tribunal also reduced his costs bill, from just over £3,000 to £750.