SRA: accepted undertaking

SRA: accepted undertaking

A solicitor whose firm was shut down last year after failing to effect an orderly wind-down has agreed never to practise again in a deal struck with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

In a recently published regulatory settlement agreement, John David Arnott, who became a solicitor in 1978, admitted to five charges relating to his practice in Witney, Oxfordshire. He was a specialist family lawyer.

In November 2014 the SRA shut down the firm for: failing to maintain accurate and complete books of account following the departure of his bookkeeper in July 2014; failing to effect an orderly wind-down of the firm following its closure on 30 September 2014, by not ensuring safe storage of clients files and failing to fully distribute client monies; allowing a £2,555 shortage to accrue on client account and then failing to replace it before the firm ceased trading; and trading whilst unable to pay debts as they became due, leading to liabilities of at least £46,250.

The agreement recorded that Mr Arnott had a spotless regulatory record, did not intend to practise in future and finds himself in “difficult personal circumstances”.

By way of sanction, he agreed to remove his name from the roll of solicitors and provided an undertaking that he would not apply “at any time” to have his name restored. He also paid £495 in costs.

Last week we reported on two separate cases that went before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal of elderly solicitors with spotless regulatory records, at the point of retirement, who had failed to meet compliance plan undertakings made to the SRA about winding down their practices after failing to secure professional indemnity insurance. Both were fined.

Meanwhile, the SRA has shut down the practice of Rajeswary Ramasamy at East London firm Thames Chambers Solicitors, saying that there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Mrs Ramasamy and intervention was necessary to protect the interests of clients of the firm.

Two years ago, the firm was criticised by a High Court judge after failing to overturn a wasted costs order. In Thames Chambers Solicitors v Miah [2013] EWHC 1245 (QB), Mr Justice Tugendhat said that Mrs Ramasamy knew when she accepted instructions from the claimant, a struck-off solicitor, that he was bankrupt and that “any competent solicitor” must know that the trustee’s consent was required before proceedings to enforce a claim could be pursued.


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