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Rebuke for law firm co-founder who punched colleague in the face

SRA: solicitor’s action breached two core principles

The co-founder of a law firm who received a police caution after punching a female colleague in the face has been rebuked by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Richard Lacey, a former partner at Liverpool criminal law firm Parry Welch Lacey, is also to pay £600 to the SRA as part of a regulatory settlement agreement that means the matter will not be taken any further.

According to the agreement, four days before Christmas in 2015, Mr Lacey was socialising with a group of work colleagues in Liverpool city centre.

“During the evening he punched a female colleague in the face. He subsequently attended a police station for a voluntary interview and on 10 May 2016 he accepted a conditional caution for assault by beating.”

The conditions of the caution were to write a letter of apology to his victim and pay her compensation of £150, with which he complied.

Mr Lacey admitted, and the SRA accepted, that by committing the offence and accepting a conditional caution, he failed to uphold the rule of law and failed to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in him and the provision of legal services, in breach of the SRA principles.

In mitigation, Mr Lacey explained that “he was dealing with some difficult personal circumstances at the time, which he believes had an impact on his conduct”, the agreement recorded.

The SRA said the agreed outcome was appropriate in the circumstances.

In a statement, Parry Welch Lacey said: “Richard Lacey was immediately suspended from the partnership in consequence of his criminal behaviour in assaulting a member of the firm and was allowed to retire from the partnership following a finding of gross misconduct on 31 December 2015. He has had no role within the practice since that date.

“The firm supports the SRA’s finding in this case which has no bearing on the conduct of any other member of the firm, some of whom had to witness and who were affected by his behaviour.”

Meanwhile, Peter McLintock, a corporate partner in the Birmingham office of regional firm Mills & Reeve LLP has been rebuked by the SRA after admitting to breaching client confidentiality by sending an email to a third party. The SRA did not publish any more details of the misconduct.

He was also ordered to pay £600 in costs.