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Solicitor agrees to quit roll over pre-retirement error

Attestation clause: Solicitor was dishonest

A solicitor who was trying to close files ahead of his retirement has agreed to remove himself from the roll after he wrote in a false attestation clause for an executors’ oath.

Gareth David Charles Meyjes accepted the equivalent of a strike-off in a regulatory settlement agreement with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) that means he will not face a disciplinary tribunal.

Mr Meyjes, who qualified in 1973, was a consultant at Bells Solicitors in Farnham, Surrey at the time and the misconduct occurred five days before his last day at the firm.

Mr Meyjes and his co-executors signed off on a client’s estate accounts, and the executors’ oath. But the executors failed to swear the oath in front of an independent solicitor.

The co-executors had left the office when Mr Meyjes noticed the mistake.

The agreement said: “Mr Meyjes acknowledges that the correct thing to do in such circumstances was to have the executors repeat their oaths, this time in front of an independent solicitor, who could sign off as having been the witness.

“Instead, he added the details of an independent solicitor to the signatures, making it look as if the solicitor had witnessed the swearing of the oath. As a result, the executive oaths were invalid.”

The firm rectified the mistake by having the oaths re-sworn, terminated its retainer, waived its fees, and transferred the files to another firm. This meant there was no loss to any client.

Mr Meyjes admitted that he acted dishonestly and without integrity.

In mitigation, he said he “made a mistake, in a moment of madness, when trying to conclude matters quickly”. He was due to retire and felt under pressure to close as many matters as possible.

The agreement said Mr Meyjes co-operated throughout with the SRA and helped to make sure the oaths were properly sworn.

“It was an isolated incident and no client suffered any detriment. Mr Meyjes did not gain any financial advantage.”

Under the agreement, he undertook to remove himself from the roll and accepted that this would the effect of a striking-off order.

This means that no solicitor can employ or remunerate him in connection with his practice without the SRA’s written permission.

He also undertook not to apply for restoration to the roll in the future.

He further agreed to pay the SRA’s costs of £912.