Jail for solicitor who kept on practising after being struck off

Print This Post

By Legal Futures

25 September 2014


SRA: private prosecution

A solicitor has been jailed for practising despite being struck off nearly two years ago in what is thought to be the first time a court has imposed an immediate custodial sentence for such an offence.

Anthony David Preston, of Northwood, Middlesex, was sentenced to three months in prison at St Alban’s Crown Court last week, after a prosecution brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

He was jailed for acting in conveyancing transactions, administering an oath and obtaining letters of administration despite being struck off the roll of solicitors in October 2012 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

The offending behaviour took place between November 2012 and May 2013. The SRA was alerted to this activity after receiving complaints about Mr Preston.

Mr Preston pleaded guilty to offences under the Solicitors Act 1974 and Legal Services Act 2007. The Recorder said that the SRA and other regulators do not seek to protect titles out of vanity, but to maintain public confidence in the professions. Mr Preston was also ordered to pay costs to the SRA of £20,376.30.

Mr Preston originally had a number of allegations found proved against him by the SDT in 2012, including dishonesty, misleading clients about the selling prices of properties in their conveyancing transactions and failing to inform them properly of the details of the transaction.

The SDT said he had dishonestly deprived clients of information which went to the heart of the trust upon which a solicitor/client relationship is based. These were all extremely serious matters and Mr Preston’s conduct had caused clients to suffer financial loss and caused a great deal of damage to the reputation of the profession.

Gordon Ramsay, SRA director of legal and enforcement, said: “Solicitors are struck off for a number of reasons. One of these is that it’s been found that they cannot be trusted to provide high-quality, competent legal services to clients, many of whom are spending large amounts of money. This was the case with Mr Preston, as the tribunal judgment shows.

“But he continued to carry out legal services, including handling house purchases, despite having his right to do so revoked. We brought this prosecution to protect the public. We’ve seen previous criminal prosecutions attract suspended prison sentences, but this is the first we are aware of where a court has imposed an immediate custodial sentence.”

Tags: ,



Leave a comment

* Denotes required field

All comments will be moderated before posting. Please see our Terms and Conditions

Legal Futures Blog

Looking for new answers in PI

Ken Fowlie

It might be a New Year with a new justice secretary, but there’s work to do if 2018 isn’t going to result in the same old story when it comes to legal reform. In recent times the personal injury sector has been hit by a battery of changes, and all-too often our response has been unclear or even apologetic. Yet the cumulative impact on our firms and especially on those we seek to assist has been obvious. It is time we learned from our experiences and tried a different approach.

January 23rd, 2018