Partner agrees to leave profession for “recklessly” misleading firm


SRA: Conduct lacked integrity

A former equity partner at leading law firm Thompsons has agreed to remove himself from the roll after admitting he “recklessly” misled it about the intimate nature of his relationship with a colleague.

Richard John Cartwright has also undertaken not to apply for restoration to the roll or otherwise work at a law firm without the regulator’s prior agreement.

According to a regulatory settlement agreement published yesterday by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), “various concerns about Mr Cartwright’s conduct were raised with the firm” in December 2019, including the nature of his relationship with a colleague, Person A.

He was suspended to allow for an investigation and Mr Cartwright agreed not to contact or have any communication with any employees of the firm during this time.

At a meeting a month later, Mr Cartwright denied the allegations put to him about his conduct and that he had been in an intimate relationship with Person A.

The following day, he contacted Person A “numerous times”, the SRA said, including one 17-minute call during which they discussed the investigation.

Mr Cartwright resigned on 2 March 2020 and at a meeting a week later denied attempting to contact Person A.

Two days after that, however, he admitted to the firm that he had previously had an intimate relationship with Person A and that he had contacted them to discuss the investigation.

In the agreement, Mr Cartwright admitted to giving Thompsons “recklessly misleading information”.

In mitigation, he explained that he initially denied the nature of his relationship with Person A “because of the personal nature of the matter and potential embarrassment it could cause him and Person A”.

This was also why he attempted to contact Person A after the meeting “and continued to give recklessly misleading information to the firm until he was sure there would be no adverse impact for Person A”.

The SRA accepted that Mr Cartwright’s state of health at the time “contributed to a serious error of judgement on Mr Cartwright’s part” – ill health that was continuing.

It went on: “Mr Cartwright’s recklessly misleading statements concerned his private life, were made only to the firm and in relation to his terms of employment. There was no harm caused to any parties.” It was an “isolated incident” in an otherwise unblemished career.

He has not practised since March 2020 and “has no present intention of returning to employment within the legal profession”.

But the SRA said removal from the roll was appropriate given that he “fell short of the ethical standards expected of solicitors and so lacks integrity”.





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