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Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief reprimand solicitor judges

SRA: Solicitors failed to disclose investigations to judicial authorities

Two solicitor judges who failed to inform the judicial authorities that they had been investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have been reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice.

Maneer Ghani, who sits as a magistrate in Merseyside, was fined £5,000 [1] by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal last November for breaking the personal injury referral fee ban by paying an unlicensed claims management company over £200,000 in only six months.

The tribunal found that Mr Ghani “ought to have known” that he was breaking the rules.

His failure “to promptly notify his bench chairman” that he was subject to an investigation was then probed by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO).

A statement said: “In reaching their decision, the Lord Chancellor and Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb DBE on behalf of the Lord Chief Justice took into consideration that Mr Ghani accepted full responsibility for his actions and that no findings of dishonesty were made against him.”

Meanwhile, Judge Viney Jung, a fee-paid judge of the First-tier Tribunal health, education and social care chamber, was formally rebuked by the SRA for failing to report improper conduct by a former employee at her firm of solicitors, but failed to tell her chamber president.

In a regulatory settlement agreement published in February 2018, the SRA said the office manager at Ms Jung’s west London firm Jung Law made 74 improper payments totalling £201,550 from its client account to himself over a period of 14 months.

He also accepted eight payments of client money on account of costs which, instead of putting into the firm’s client account, he took for himself.

Ms Jung dismissed him after his actions were discovered, and the office manager’s family repaid the money. Ms Jung did not report the matter to the SRA, her insurer or the police.

The JCIO said: “The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice found that Judge Jung’s actions amounted to misconduct and have issued her with a reprimand.

“In reaching this decision, they took into consideration mitigation offered by the Judge and that the SRA had not made any findings of dishonesty against her.”